Flax has one main leafy stem with many branches at the top. Each branch will flower with a small, light blue flower with five petals. The individual flowers open in the morning, and the petals fall off by noon. The bolls of the flowers usually contain between 6 and 10 small seeds. Although not a common crop in Montana, some farmers will plant flax to break up rotations of other crops. Because flax plants mature at different rates, farmers will often cut the fields into windrows, like hay, and let the plants dry before combining the windrows.


While flax fiber is used in the production of linen and rope, flax in Montana is typically grown for the seed. There is a growing market for flax seed for human consumption, often in cereals and breads. The most common use of flax seed is to press them to extract the seed oil. This oil, called either flaxseed oil or linseed oil, is used for human consumption, as a drying agent in paints, and in other industrial applications. The meal left over after the oil is extracted makes an excellent livestock feed supplement.

Central Montana Flax

Scientific Name

Linum usitatissimum

Growing Season

Planted in the spring, harvested approximately 100 days after planting, when the plants are no longer green.


240,000 bushels in Montana

Did You Know?

  • A bushel of flax seed weighs 60 pounds.
  • The small size of flax seed makes it much more difficult to store than other grain crops.
  • The ancient Egyptians wrapped mummies in linen made from flax.
  • In 2013, Montana was the 3rd largest producer of flax in the United States, but supplied only 7.2% of the nation’s flax.