Crailar Technologies has rebuilt an idle mill in Pamplico, South Carolina, utilizing the facility to make a natural fiber that’s a compliment to cotton from flax straw.
Continuing our series on alternative crops in the Carolinas, Steve Sondroni, Vice President of Agriculture for Crailar explains that flax is next in line to be eligible for crop insurance:
“We are excited about crop insurance. The bankers and local farm credits require crop insurance. So it was somewhat of a hindrance for us since we are just getting started. But we are working with the Pee Dee Research and USDA and already have two years of yield data for flax. We are submitting that to the local crop insurance and we will formulate a letter to make a plea to get crop insurance. We are excited about our response so far. We feel like we will have crop insurance at the end of this next crop year, that will be 2013. There is an outside chance that they will do a pilot program for this crop.”
How many growers do you have for the 2012-13 growing season?
“I would say 30 and about 4000 acres. I would rather have more than that, but this is an all time high for prices on competitive crops like wheat and soybeans, so that was a hindrance. It slowed down the adoption rate but we met the prices; we came up with a good price structure of what they can do with our crop. Once we prove ourselves in the market place and show the farmers how much money they can make per acre, I think we will be off to the races.”
Did you have many producers that were repeats from the 2011-12 season?
“We did, but not all of them. A lot of things were done that weren’t exactly to the guidelines. That is one of the things that I have done, is to develop a production guideline which we did not have last year. But now we feel like we are on strong footing on exactly how to grow the crop and what it needs. We had several growers that made some outstanding yields last year and we are building off of that.
The farmers look at this as a great opportunity because everyone needs a different winter crop. The number one thing I would like to stress is this not only gives the farmer another opportunity to grow a secondary crop, but its an earlier crop so rather than be boxed in with wheat, harvesting in the first week of June and throws their next crop later, our harvest date is May 15 so two weeks at planting time is huge. I think we have a competitive advantage there, but also there is the ease of planting the second crop. Once people understand the rotation and the double cropping system that we offer, it will be very exciting for the growers.”
Tomorrow, we’ll hear from a producer that’s planted flax for the second year in Marion County, South Carolina
To read more about Flax, check out the Alternative crop Series.