Alberta 2008 Specialty Crop Report

 
 
Download 403K pdf file ("specialty_crops_final.pdf")PDF
(403K)
     Subscribe to our free E-Newsletter, "Agri-News" (formerly RTW This Week)Agri-News
This Week
 
 
 
 
Purpose of survey | Methodology | Survey results | Specialty crops in Western Canada | Specialty crops by census division in Alberta | Markets for selected specialty crops | Economics of specialty crop production | Acknowledgment | Contacts
.
Purpose of Survey

To address some of the data and information needs of the specialty crop industry in Alberta, the Statistics and Data Development (SADD) Unit conducts an annual Specialty Crop Survey. Now into its twenty-fifth year, the survey captures data on area, yield and production for specialty crops grown in the province.

Data gathered from the survey are used primarily to generate related provincial and sub-provincial estimates. In turn, these estimates are used to validate some of the Alberta estimates generated by Statistics Canada, as well as to provide industry and other stakeholders with benchmark statistics for some of the “new” and emerging crops.

Methodology

The Alberta Specialty Crop Survey, which is provincial in scope, collects data through a non-probability sampling procedure. In January 2008, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 3,713 specialty crop producers across the province. The questionnaires specifically asked survey participants to provide information on the type of specialty crop grown, area (seeded and harvested acres), and yield for 2007. Survey participants were informed that participation in the survey was voluntary. Moreover, all individual responses would be kept confidential under the provisions of the Federal Statistics Act, as well as under the Provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act. As of June 30, 2008, a total of 872 questionnaires were returned. Of this total, 646 were usable and partly formed the basis in the generation of the Alberta 2007 specialty crop estimates.

Survey responses received were reviewed for data completeness, validated and entered into an electronic database. The data was then subjected to computerized analyses, the results of which were rolled up into group summaries, to preserve data confidentiality of individual survey respondents. In turn, the group summaries, in conjunction with consultations with provincial specialists of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD), industry, and information from published sources (e.g. Statistics Canada) were used to generate the provincial and sub-provincial (Census Division) estimates, where appropriate.

It cannot be over emphasized that extensive consultation is done with ARD’s provincial specialists and industry in the development of the provincial/sub-provincial estimates. Provincial specialists are acknowledged for their useful information and invaluable insights on crop conditions and yields, particularly when attempting to firm up some of the sub-provincial estimates generated from the survey. Similarly, administrative data on yield and crop area grown under private contracts also add value to the estimates.

It should be noted that the estimates are subject to error. Some of the possible sources of error include data coding, data entry and tabulation. Nonetheless, we believe that the statistics published in this report are reliable estimates for Alberta.

Survey Results

Area, yield and production in Alberta
In 2007, producers in Alberta continued to seed a large acreage of specialty crops, due to the need for crop rotation and diversification. The total provincial seeded area, excluding potatoes and forage seeds, was estimated at 0.96 million acres, unchanged from a year earlier (see Figure 1). Of the total seeded area, nearly 0.90 million acres or 94 per cent were harvested for grain. To offer some perspective, shown in Figure 3 on page 4, is the percentage distribution of specialty crop seeded acreage, by crop type in 2007.

Regarding crop growing conditions, excessive moisture reserves in the spring of 2007, resulted in major delays in seeding operations in most areas of the province. Despite the late start, crops showed excellent growth and development in June. However, the hot, dry weather experienced in July caused significant deterioration in crop conditions and yield potentials. Provincial average yields for most specialty crops grown on dryland were below average, while specialty crops grown under irrigation benefited from the heat in July, producing above average yields.

In 2007, the provincial average yield for dry peas was estimated at 32.6 bushels per acre, nine per cent lower than in 2006, and six per cent below the 10-year average (see Tables 1 and 4). For triticale, the provincial average yield was 38.9 bushels per acre, one per cent lower than in 2006, and three per cent below the 10-year average. With the majority of its acreage in southern Alberta, mustard seed produced an average yield of 702 pounds per acre, or 25 per cent lower than in 2006, and seven per cent below the 10-year average.

Provincial yields were generally above average for specialty crops under irrigation. For dry beans, the provincial average yield was estimated at 2,260 pounds per acre, four per cent higher than in 2006, and the 10-year average. For sugar beets and potatoes, the provincial average yields were 25.1 tonnes per acre and 341 cwt per acre, respectively, with both yields higher than their 10-year averages.



Source: Statistics Canada; and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

Specialty Crops in Western Canada

Based on the results of “Alberta 2007 Specialty Crop Survey” and Statistics Canada’s “November Estimate of Production of Principal Field Crops, Canada, 2008”, total seeded and harvested acres of specialty crops in Western Canada in 2007 increased significantly from a year earlier. This was due to a large acreage increase in Saskatchewan, more than offsetting the decline in Manitoba, as Alberta’s acreage remained practically unchanged and area in British Columbia was almost negligible.

In 2007, the total seeded area of specialty crops in Western Canada jumped to 7.48 million acres, or 11 per cent higher than the 6.75 million acres in 2006. On a provincial basis, Saskatchewan with its 5.53 million acres accounted for 74 per cent of the total specialty crop seeded area in Western Canada, while Manitoba and Alberta accounted for 13 per cent each. The specialty crop seeded area in British Columbia was extremely small. Similar to seeded area, the total harvested acreage in Western Canada in 2007 was up 12 per cent from a year earlier, to 7.24 million acres.

Based on acreage, the four largest specialty crops grown in Western Canada in 2007 were dry peas, lentils, canary seed and mustard seed. Together, these crops accounted for 5.84 million acres, or 78 per cent of the total area seeded to specialty crops. Dry peas, with a total seeded area of 3.63 million acres, was the largest specialty crop, representing almost one-half (49 per cent) of the Western Canada total. Lentils was next, with seeded acres totaling 1.34 million or 18 per cent of the total, while mustard seed and canary seed accounted for six per cent each. Shown in Figure 2 is the harvested area of the top four specialty crops in Western Canada. Statistics on seeded area and production for selected specialty crops are presented in Table 5 on page 14.


Source: Statistics Canada; and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development






Figure 4





Specialty Crops by Census Division in Alberta

This section presents estimates of area, yield and production at the Census Division level in Alberta for dry peas, mustard seed, dry beans and chick peas. Just to note, the Census Division estimates were generated from a small sample, and as such, caution should be exercised when interpreting and using the data. Also, for reference, the Alberta Census Division and municipality map is shown on page 5 – Figure 4.

Dry peas
The total seeded area of dry peas in Alberta in 2007 was estimated at 610,000 acres (see Table 1). Of this total, 595,000 acres were harvested, or five per cent higher than in 2006, and nine per cent above the 10-year average. Due to the dry conditions in July 2007, the average yield, estimated at 32.6 bushels per acre, was nine per cent lower than in 2006, and six per cent below the 10-year average.

The total provincial production of dry peas was estimated at 527,500 tonnes, five per cent lower than in 2006. The lower production was attributed to a lower yield, which more than negated the impact of a larger harvested area.

Although dry peas are grown primarily on dryland across the province, more acreage is concentrated in Census Divisions 1 (Medicine Hat area), 5 (Drumheller area) and 10 (Vermilion area) - see Table 2 and Figure 5. These three Census Divisions (1, 5 and 10) accounted for 47 per cent of the provincial total harvested area in 2007. Just to mention, dry pea yields varied across the province.


Figure 5

Mustard seed
In 2007, the total seeded and harvested area of mustard seed in the province was estimated at 85,000 acres (see Table 1). Due to the hot, dry weather in July, the provincial average yield fell 25 per cent from 2006, to 702 pounds per acre.


Figure 6

Despite the lower yield, the total provincial production of mustard seed, estimated at 27,000 tonnes, was five per cent higher than in 2006. The higher production stemmed from a 42 per cent increase in the harvested area, more than negating the impact of the lower yield.

Of the three types of mustard seed produced in Alberta, yellow mustard seed continues to dominate, accounting for 60 per cent of the provincial total production in 2007, while brown and oriental mustard seed represented 23 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.

In 2007, over 80 per cent of the total harvested area in the province was in Census Divisions 2, 4 and 5 (see Table 2 and Figure 6). Also, mustard seed yields varied significantly across Census Divisions. For example, Census Division 5 had the highest yield of 817 pounds per acre, while the lowest yield of 645 pounds per acre was reported in Census Division 3.

Dry beans
In 2007, Alberta producers seeded and harvested 53,000 acres of dry beans (see Table 1).
The provincial average yield was estimated at 2,260 pounds per acre, up four per cent from the 2006 yield of 2,180 pounds per acre. The higher yield in 2007 was mainly a result of above seasonal temperatures in July, which was beneficial to crops grown under irrigation.

The total production of dry beans in 2007 was estimated at 54,400 tonnes, or 11 per cent lower than in 2006. Driving the lower production was a substantial decline in harvested area, despite the higher yield.

Dry beans are grown mostly under irrigation in southern Alberta. In 2007, a total of 46,492 acres or 88 per cent of the provincial dry bean seeded area was irrigated, according to information from the Water Resources Branch of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

In 2007, Census Divisions 1 and 2 jointly accounted for 96 per cent of the provincial total harvested area (see Table 2 and Figure 7). Dry beans are generally grown under contract in Alberta.


Figure 7

Chick peas
The total seeded area of chick peas in Alberta in 2007 increased 23 per cent from a year earlier, to 50,000 acres (see Table 1). With all the seeded acres harvested, chick peas produced an average yield of 1,176 pounds per acre, or 18 per cent lower than in 2006. Yields were down due to the dry conditions in July 2007.

The total provincial production of chick peas was estimated at 26,700 tonnes, practically unchanged from 2006. A larger harvested area essentially negated the impact of a lower yield.

Chick peas are primarily grown on dryland in southern Alberta, with only small amounts produced under irrigation. In 2007, about 76 per cent of the provincial total harvested area was in Census Divisions 1 and 2 (see Table 2 and Figure 8).

Figure 8








Markets for Selected Specialty Crops

Dry peas
The recent international financial crisis, particularly the tight world credit condition, has pushed dry pea prices lower. With respect to supply in Canada, record harvested acreage and high yields in 2008 resulted in a record production, adding pressure to the dry peas market. Prices for human consumption dry yellow peas in Canada are currently under $6.00 per bushel. Due mainly to large supplies in Canada and the world, market prices for dry yellow peas are likely to remain in the range of $5.50-6.50 per bushel during the first half of 2009, significantly below the 2007/08 prices.



Lentils
The total Canadian supply of lentils has improved, as a result of increased production in 2008 (stemming from larger acreage and higher yields). Similar to other agricultural commodities, the lentil market has been under pressure recently. Prices for high quality large green lentils are currently in the range of 21-23 cents per pound, compared to 35 cents per pound three months ago. The current lentil prices at 21-23 cents per pound are expected to hold through the winter and spring.



Chick peas
Due to a large decline in harvested acreage, total Canadian production of chick peas in 2008 decreased markedly from a year earlier. Despite some losses in market prices recently, the reduced Canadian supply has contributed to a relatively less volatile market for chick peas, compared to other agricultural commodities. Kabuli prices are currently just below 30 cents per pound, and are expected to hold for the remainder of the winter.

Due to a large decline in harvested acreage, total Canadian production of chick peas in 2008 decreased markedly from a year earlier. Despite some losses in market prices recently, the reduced Canadian supply has contributed to a relatively less volatile market for chick peas, compared to other agricultural commodities. Kabuli prices are currently just below 30 cents per pound, and are expected to hold for the remainder of the winter.



Canary seed
The total Canadian production of canary seed in 2008 increased from a year earlier, with higher yields more than offsetting a decline in harvested acreage. Similar to other agricultural commodities, prices for canary seed have decreased recently. Market prices are currently at the 16-17 cents per pound level, compared to 26-28 cents per pound four months ago. With the tight supply, canary seed prices are likely to be in the range of 17-20 cents per pound in the remainder of the 2008/09 crop year.



Mustard seed
Due to a combination of larger harvested acreage and higher yields, total Canadian production of mustard seed in 2008 increased significantly from a year earlier. Of the three types of mustard seed produced, yellow mustard seed continues to dominate and accounts for more than 50 per cent of the total mustard seed acreage. Despite some recent declines in prices, mustard seed market remains relatively strong compared to most other specialty crops. In general, markets prices for all three types of mustard seeds in 2008/09 are expected to be significantly above their 5-year averages.









Charlie Pearson
Market and Consumer Analysis Unit

Economics of Specialty Crop Production

Costs and returns for crops, livestock, and several other enterprises have been monitored in the province in an extensive way since the 1960’s. These studies have been viewed as an important tool for assisting producers in their cropping decisions and the federal and provincial governments in developing policies and programs for different farm enterprises. In addition, results from these studies have served to fill some data gaps for other provinces.

The Economics Unit (formerly known as Production Economics Branch), in the Economics and Competitiveness Division of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, has been conducting economic studies on various farm enterprises for the last several decades. Since the early 1990’s, greater emphasis has been placed on developing costs and returns data on specialty crops for farm diversification purposes.

Continued volatile markets for traditional cereals and oilseeds have encouraged producers to diversify their operations into new and emerging specialty crops. As mentioned above, results from these studies have been very helpful to primary producers when making cropping decisions. Furthermore, individual producers have also used the results from these studies to compare costs and returns and profitability margins of their farms with the group averages from the respective areas in order to develop better management practices. Agri-businesses and other stakeholders have used the results of the economic studies for feasibility studies.

During the last ten years, area under special crops has increased significantly in Alberta. The total seeded area of dry peas was 385,000 acres in 1997, and jumped to 610,000 acres in 2001. In 2002, seeded area increased seven per cent, to 650,000 acres. However, seeded area declined to 600,000 acres in 2003. In 2004, seeded area was estimated at 640,000 acres, an increase of about seven per cent over 2003. The seeded area in 2005 decreased 13 per cent, to 555,000 acres. In 2006, seeded area for dry peas increased six per cent, to 587,263 acres. The total harvested area in 2006 was 565,000 acres, or 96 per cent of the seeded area. The provincial average yield for the 2006 dry pea crop was 35.9 bushels per acre. Area seeded to dry peas increased by about four per cent over 2006, to 610,000 acres in 2007. Of the total seeded area, 595,000 acres were harvested with an average yield of 32.6 bushels per acre.

Dry beans acreage in Alberta has fluctuated over the last decade. The total seeded area was 60,000 acres in 2001, and remained unchanged in 2002. It decreased about 13 per cent, to 52,000 acres in 2003. The acreage continued to decline, and totaled 35,000 acres in 2004. In 2005, the total seeded area was estimated at 57,000 acres, an increase of almost 63 per cent over 2004. The acreage in 2006 jumped to 62,039 acres, or nine per cent higher than in 2005. Of the total seeded area in 2006, 61,500 acres were harvested, with an average yield of 2,180 pounds per acre. In 2007, area seeded to dry beans decreased by about 15 per cent, to 52,900 acres. Average yield for the 2007 dry beans crop was estimated at 2, 260 pounds per acre. Please note most of the dry beans are grown under contract on irrigated land in southern Alberta.

In the late 1990’s, producers showed considerable interest in chick peas (known as the new Cinderella crop on the Prairies). Chick peas were a huge crop in Saskatchewan from 1999 to 2001, occupying almost one million acres. In Alberta, acreage under chick peas was 100,000 acres in 2001, double the acreage in 2000. However, the area under chick peas decreased drastically to 45,000 acre in 2002, primarily due to drought concerns and disease problems. In 2003, the acreage dropped to 25,000 acres. The decline in area continued in 2004, with a total of 15,000 acres, the lowest area on record. In 2005, the total seeded area doubled, to 30,000 acres. In 2006, it increased about 37 per cent to 40,749 acres. Of this total seeded, 40,000 acres were harvested, with an average yield of 1,433 pounds per acre. In 2007, area seeded to chick peas (Kabuli and Desi) increased to 50,000 acres, approximately 23 per cent higher than in 2006. The changes in chick pea acreage over the last decade could be attributed to drought concerns, crop diseases, and production in major importing countries.

Additionally, producer interest in other specialty crops, including caraway, buckwheat, coriander, borage, herbs and spices, continues to grow.

Shown in Table 6 are estimates of 2007 production costs and returns for dry peas. Costs and returns data for dry beans and chick peas (desi and kabuli) are presented in Tables 7 and 8, respectively.






Acknowledgment

The Statistics and Data Development Unit of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) wishes to thank all of the producers who participated in the Alberta 2007 Specialty Crop Survey conducted in the winter of 2007/2008. Without their cooperation and assistance, this report would not have been possible.

Several ARD staff members have made significant contributions to the successful completion and dissemination of this report. Those staff include Charlie Pearson of Market and Consumer Analysis Unit, Nabi Chaudhary of Economics Unit, Reynold Jaipaul, Roy Larsen, Melodie Mynzak, Guangzhi Liu, Gail Atkinson, Marion Harry, Marian Elson, and Margaret McDonald of Statistics and Data Development Unit.

Chuanliang Su
Crop Statistician
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Economics and Competitiveness Division
Statistics and Data Development Unit
#302, 7000-113 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T6H 5T6

Contacts

For additional information relating to the various sections of this report, please do not hesitate to contact the subject area specialist referenced under each section.

For additional copies of this report, please contact:

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Economics and Competitiveness Division
Statistics and Data Development Unit
#302, 7000-113 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T6H 5T6
Phone: 780-427-4011
Fax: 780-427-5220

For the complete survey report click: "Alberta 2008 Specialty Crop Survey ".
 
 
 
 

Other Documents in the Series

 
  Specialty Crop Reports
Alberta 2012 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2011 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2010 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2009 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2008 Specialty Crop Report - Current Document
Alberta 2007 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2006 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2005 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2004 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2003 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2002 Specialty Crop Report
 
 
 
 
Share via AddThis.com
For more information about the content of this document, contact Ashan Shooshtarian.
This document is maintained by Mary E Nucom.
This information published to the web on February 13, 2009.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 14, 2017.