Alberta 2003 Specialty Crop Report

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 Purpose of survey | Methodology | Survey results | Acknowledgments

.Purpose of survey

By Maureen Wenger, Survey Operations Manager

To address some of the data and information needs of the Specialty Crop industry in Alberta, the Statistics and Data Development Branch has been conducting an annual Specialty Crop Survey. Now into its twentieth year, the survey attempts to capture data on area (seeded and harvested acres), yield and production, for the various types of specialty crops grown in Alberta.

Data gathered from the survey are used primarily to generate related provincial and sub-provincial estimates by the SADD Unit. 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 grown in the province.


The Alberta Specialty Crop Survey, which is provincial in scope, collects data through a non-probability sampling procedure. In December 2002, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 4,177 specialty crop producers across Alberta. The questionnaires specifically asked survey participants to provide, at their earliest convenience, information on the type of specialty crop grown, area (seeded and harvested acres), yield and production for the year 2002. Survey participants were also made aware 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, by which the SADD Unit is governed and operates. As of March 13, 2003, a total of 1,242 questionnaires were returned. Of this total, 1,086 were usable and formed part of the basis in the generation of the Alberta 2002 specialty crop estimates.

Survey responses received were reviewed for data completeness, validated and entered into an electronic database. The data was then subjected to some 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 industry, published sources (e.g. Statistics Canada) and Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AAFRD) subject area/provincial specialists 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 AAFRD's subject area/provincial specialists and industry, in the derivation of the provincial/sub-provincial estimates, especially in instances where specialty crop production tended to be localized/regionalized. For example, mustard and lentils are grown mainly in the Southern Region and eastern areas of the Central Region. Largely due to proximity and familiarity with local conditions, provincial specialists in district/regional offices tend to offer useful information and valuable insights on crop conditions and yields, particularly when attempting to firm up some of the sub-provincial estimates generated from the survey. Likewise, administrative data showing yield and crop area grown under private contracts also tend to add value to some of the estimates.

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

Survey Results
By Chuanliang Su

Area, yield and production in Alberta
The 2002 crop season will be remembered as one of the worst in Alberta's farming history. Drought conditions and other adverse factors experienced in much of Alberta during the 2002 crop season significantly reduced production of specialty crops.

Due to needs for crop rotation and diversification, many Alberta producers continued to grow specialty crops in 2002. Total seeded area of specialty crops in the province in 2002 was estimated at 1.04 million acres - Figure 1 (excluding potatoes and forage seeds). Of this total, about 30 percent or 315,000 acres were not harvested due to damage from drought conditions, insect problems and other adverse factors (e.g., heat in July, early frosts and poor harvesting conditions). The adverse factors also resulted in a reduction in specialty crop yields.

In southern Alberta, however, moisture conditions for dryland crops were more favorable in 2002 than in 2001. As a result, yields of mustard, lentils and chickpeas improved significantly, which are grown primarily in the southeastern parts of Alberta (see Tables 2 and 3).

Crops under irrigation in southern Alberta, including potatoes, sugar beets and dry beans, had below or well below average yields in 2002, due to cool temperatures and excessive moisture from heavy rainfall.

On June 26, 2003, Statistics Canada is expected to release estimates of 2003 seeded area for major crops as well as some specialty crops by province.

Specialty crops in Western Canada
According to Statistics Canada's November Production Estimate of 2002 Field Crops and the Alberta 2002 Specialty Crop Survey, about 7.79 million acres were seeded to specialty crops in Western Canada in 2002. This was down about three percent from the seeded area of 8.01 million acres in 2001. Only 6.11 million acres of specialty crops were harvested in 2002. Drought conditions and other adverse factors were the reasons for significant reduction in harvested area and yields in Western Canada.

In 2002, dry peas remained the largest specialty crop in Western Canada. Total seeded area of dry peas was estimated at 3.21 million acres, of which, 2.60 million acres were harvested with a production of 1.78 million tonnes. A total of 0.36 million tonnes of lentils were produced from 0.96 million acres harvested. Total production of chickpeas was estimated at 0.18 million tonnes and harvested area at 0.40 million acres. Mustard production in 2002 was 0.16 million tonnes from a total harvested area of 0.64 million acres. In addition, about 0.16 million tonnes of canary seed were produced from 0.53 million acres harvested.

Saskatchewan remained the largest producer of specialty crops in 2002. Nearly three-quarters of total seeded area of specialty crops in Western Canada are grown in Saskatchewan. Manitoba and Alberta account for about one half each of the remaining area. There is a minimum acreage of specialty crops grown in British Columbia. Harvested area of major specialty crops in Western Canada are shown in Figure 2. Related statistics on seeded area and production of selected specialty crops are presented in Table 5.


We gratefully acknowledge the participation of producers of specialty crops across the province. Without their cooperation, this report would not have been possible.

As well, the participation of the Survey Services Team of Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, including Maureen Wenger, Shukun Guan, Guangzhi Liu, and Brenda Kerychuk, who conducted the Alberta 2002 Specialty Crop Survey, is appreciated.

In addition, contributions to this report from Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development staff, including Chuanliang Su, Reynold Jaipaul, Gail Atkinson, Charlie Pearson, Nabi Chaudhary, Dr. Stan Blade, Jackie Teulie, Chunyu Jiao, R. Bok-Vischer, Neil Clarke, K. Ampong-Nyarko, Manjula Bandara, Carina Weisbach, Andrew Fox, Judy Webber, and Elizabeth Russell is very much appreciated.

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 the complete survey report click: 2003 Alberta Specialty Crop Results.pdf


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
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 - Current Document
Alberta 2002 Specialty Crop Report
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This information published to the web on July 9, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on October 7, 2015.