Grains & Oilseeds
Canola production followed by wheat are important crops in crop rotation in the Parkland region. Manitoba historically has been producing wheat, however by the mid 2000 canola and wheat acres were equal but in most years wheat continues to be Manitoba’s number one crop.
The region has the capability to grow most commodities such as; soybeans, oats, barley, industrial hemp, borage, buckwheat and forages. The volume of acres is dependent on contracted demand and traded commodity prices.
Canola production has increased dramatically since 1976 and its rate of increase is much higher than the provincial average. In the 1990’s market demand for canola was low for several years with deep market flexing, increased production costs and risky returns. In 2008, the price per bushel rose above $14.00. In 2010, flooding in the PARC region decreased harvest bushel for many crops, including canola. In 2012, aster yellow virus and wind damage claimed thousands of acres across the Canadian Prairies. Canola crushing capacity has expanded 1.5+ billion tonnes of new crushing at two recently constructed canola crushers in Yorkton. For Prairie farmers, canola production is seen as a major cash crop and alternates with wheat as one of the top two most important crops in the Parkland.
The second most important crop in the region is hard red spring wheat. Farmers will also grow hard white wheat and winter wheat but very little durum is grown in the region. The prairie mountain air produces a high quality grain that is suitable for all intended uses. Fusarium can affect HRSW, but historically this occurs in the south-central areas of Manitoba and this region has not experienced a major outbreak of Fusarium.
On Aug 1, 2012, the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly ended and the Prairie wheat production entered the open market, which provides companies and farmers opportunities to add value to wheat.
In 2004, the Greater Parkland Region produced more than 106,000 acres or 15.6% of Manitoba’s two-row (13.0%) and six-row (18.4%) barley production. While barley is grown for livestock feed and for certain contracted malting varieties, the acres of barley have dropped off sharply in recent years due to reduced livestock numbers and changing climate. In a meeting with barley growers in September 2014, farmers expressed an interest in growing the crop if there was contracted demand.
In 1989 oats was removed from the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly. The open market for oats has grown substantially. Oat production in 2004 was 56,077 acres for the Greater Parkland Region or 10.7% of Manitoba’s production. The cooler climate of the Parkland provides ideal growing conditions for oats. As the United States farm policies encourage corn and soybean production, the US market for Canadian oats is strong. In 2012, inventory of oats in Canada has dropped which has promoted price speculation. Canada has been the largest exporter of oats in the world.
Industrial hemp was legalized to grow under license in 1998. The Parkland area was one of the first area’s in Canada to experiment with growing the crop in large acres. In 2006, Manitoba production peaked at 11,655 acres with Saskatchewan also growing record number of acres at 6,105. Production fell in 2008 across Canada. Interest in growing industrial hemp remains strong as the demand for hemp seed for health conscience consumers remains active. There are only a handful of companies in Canada who are processing the seed for edible food and some to the bird seed market.
A lot of interest has been in the hemp fibre market for e-glass and work is underway with many manufacturers trying to include greener products through the use of composite materials. The hemp plant in Gilbert Plains will have a number of environmentally friendly products available.