Flax fibre for industrial purposes differs from that for linen production, although the agronomic factors that influence fibre development and which factors are most important for industrial fibre production have still to be defined. A description of variations in the performance of fibre flax varieties is also necessary as current guidance relates to the European market rather than the UK. Field trials were sown in 2002 and 2003 at the Henfaes Research Centre in north Wales, investigating 29 and 26 varieties, respectively, of European fibre flax and dual-purpose flax varieties. In 2002 a nitrogen treatment was included in the trial with two treatments, 40 kg/ha and 80 kg/ha. Varieties were evaluated for 20 agronomic and fibre production variables, and the differences between the varieties were analysed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and principal components analysis (PCA). The higher nitrogen rate was found to increase crop lodging, although some varieties were found to be more susceptible than others. Environment had a strong influence on crop success, with some varieties showing more year to year stability than others. PCA allowed those varieties that were the highest yielding, highest fibre producers and showed the best stability across the 2 years to be identified. Understanding the agronomic results presented and discussed here is important if fibre flax production is to become economically viable in the UK.
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