Alberta 2005 Specialty Crop Report

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 Purpose of survey | Methodology | Survey results | Acknowledgments
.Purpose of survey - By Maureen Wenger

To address some of the data and information needs of the specialty crop industry in Alberta, the Statistics and Data Development (SADD) Branch has been conducting an annual Specialty Crop Survey. Now into its twenty-second 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. In turn, these estimates, generated by the SADD Branch, 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 2004, survey questionnaires were mailed out to 3,891 specialty crop producers across Alberta. The questionnaires specifically asked survey participants to provide information on the type of specialty crop grown, area (seeded and harvested acres), yield and production for the year 2004. 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 31, 2005, a total of 913 questionnaires were returned. Of this total 821 were usable and formed part of the basis in the generation of the Alberta 2004 specialty crop estimates.

Survey responses received were reviewed for data completeness, validated and entered into an electronic database. The data was then subject 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 (ARD) 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 ARD's subject area/provincial specialists and industry, in the derivation of the provincial/sub-provincial estimates. Subject area/provincial specialists are acknowledged for their 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

Due to needs for crop rotation and diversification, specialty crop area in Alberta continued to increase in 2004. Total seeded area of specialty crops reached a record high of 1.13 million acres in Alberta - Figure 1 (excluding potatoes and forage seeds). This represented an increase of six per cent from 1.06 million acres in 2003. Over 0.98 million acres or 87 per cent of total seeded area in 2004 were harvested for grains. Percentage distribution of 2004 specialty crop seeded acreage by crop type is presented in Figure 3.

Moisture conditions during the 2004 crop season in Alberta generally improved from a year earlier, resulting in above average yields for most specialty crops grown on dryland. However, adverse weather conditions early in the fall significantly reduced crop quality.

In 2004, dry peas produced an average yield of 39.2 bushels per acre, about 12 per cent higher than the 10-year average. The average yield of mustard seeds was estimated at 902 pounds per acre, 18 per cent above the 10-year average. However, the average yield of dry beans, estimated at 20,200 pounds per acre, was five per cent below the 10-year average. The cool, damp conditions during the later part of the 2004 crop season led to the development of some diseases in dry beans, which reduced the average yield.

On June 23, 2005, Statistics Canada is expected to release estimates of 2005 seeded area for major crops as well as some specialty crops by province.

Specialty Crops in Western Canada

Based on Statistics Canada's November Estimate of Production of 2004 Principal Field Crops and the Alberta 2004 Specialty Crop Survey, total production of specialty crops in Western Canada in 2004 increased significantly from a year earlier. Increased acreage and improved yields both contributed to the higher production in 2004.

Producers in both Saskatchewan and Alberta planted more acres of specialty crops in 2004, which more than offset a reduction of area in Manitoba. Total seeded area of specialty crops in Western Canada in 2004 was estimated at 8.25 million acres. Of this total, 6.23 million acres or 75 per cent were in Saskatchewan. Alberta accounted for 14 per cent of the total seeded area, Manitoba ten per cent, and British Columbia one per cent. A total of 7.43 million acres of specialty crops were harvested in Western Canada in 2004, compared to 7.11 million acres in 2003.

The four major specialty crops grown in Western Canada are dry peas, lentils, canary seed and mustard seed. In 2004, dry peas remained the largest specialty crop in Western Canada, with total seeded area estimated at 3.43 million acres. Dry peas accounted for 42 per cent of the total specialty crop area in Western Canada, while lentils represented 23 per cent. Canary seed and mustard seed accounted for 11 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively.

Harvested area of major specialty crops is shown in Figure 2. Statistics on seeded area and production of selected specialty crops are presented in Table 5.


The Statistics and Data Development Unit of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) wishes to thank all of the producers that participated in the specialty crop survey conducted in the winter of 2004/2005. Without their cooperation and assistance, this report would not have been possible.

In addition, contributions to this report from Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development staff, including Chuanliang Su of Statistics and Data Development Unit, Charlie Pearson of Strategic Information Services Unit, Nabi Chaudhary of Economics Unit, and Manjula Bandara, Forrest Scharf, Judy Webber, Debbie Schuiling, K.Ampong-Nyarko, John Brown, Jill De Mulder, Zhixiong Zhang, Boris Henriquez and Chunyu Jiao of Crop Diversification Division, are very much appreciated.

Participation of the Survey Services Team of Economics and Competitiveness Division of AAFRD, including Maureen Wenger, Shukun Guan, and Guangzhi Liu who conducted and provided assistance to the Alberta 2004 Specialty Crop Survey, is acknowledged and appreciated. Finally, thanks to several Statistics and Data Development Unit staff members for their assistance with the report, including: Gail Atkinson, Nicole Strang and Marion Elson.

For the complete survey report download .pdf file.

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 - Current Document
Alberta 2004 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2003 Specialty Crop Report
Alberta 2002 Specialty Crop Report
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This information published to the web on May 3, 2005.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 12, 2018.