Wheat Farming in Canada: 15 Facts, History & More!

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Did you know that Canada is the fourth-largest wheat producer in the world?! Although many people think of Alberta and Saskatchewan when talking about wheat farming in Canada, surprisingly wheat crops are also grown in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

The Canadian prairies are ideally suited for wheat farming with their flat terrain, fertile soil and long, sunny growing season. This, combined with advances in farming technology, allows Canadian wheat farmers to produce high yields of high-quality wheat. Today, Canada is one of the world's leading exporters, exporting tens of millions of tonnes to more than 70 countries worldwide.

Wheat is used to make all sorts of food products; from breads and pastas to snacks and even paper, it is a critical food source and also has other applications outside of the agricultural sector. Not only is it a staple of our diets, but it is also a staple to the prosperity of farmers across our country and also for the Canadian economy.

Learn more about Canadian wheat farming with these 15 facts today! Also see:

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15 Facts on Wheat in Canada

#1 - As of 2021, Canada was the fourth-largest wheat producer in the world [1]

#2 - Canada harvests about 30 million metric tonnes of wheat every year on average [2]

#3 - Most of Canada’s wheat is produced in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba, but crops can also be found in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia [2]

#4 - In 2021, the top importers of Canadian wheat were: [1]

• China: $831 million
• Japan: $666 million
• Indonesia: $634 million
• Peru: $558 million
• Colombia: $512 million
• United States: $498 million

#5 - Canadian farmers planted an estimated 25 million acres of wheat in 2022 on a combined land area comparable to the size of South Korea [2]

#6 - Canada’s agriculture industry produces about 12% of the world's wheat, exporting it to roughly 70 different countries [3]

#7 - Canada’s total annual wheat harvest is about seven times what Canadians consume [2]

#8 - Canada's wheat industry is supported by world-leading researchers – the Canadian International Grains Institute, for example, is helping farmers increase wheat production [2]

#9 - Canada is a member of the International Grains Council and the World Trade Organization, which help to regulate and promote international trade in wheat [2]

#10 - Besides being a staple to our diets, wheat is also used for animal feed, biofuels, paper pharmaceuticals, and adhesives [4]

#11 - Global demand for wheat is predicted to increase 50% from current levels by 2050 [6]

#12 - Wheat is one of Canada’s top crops, grown on nearly 50,000 farms across Canada [2]

#13 - Canada’s agriculture industry is the leading exporter of Canada Western Amber Durum wheat [2]

#14 - Wheat is planted early in summer and requires about 110 to 130 days to grow depending on the weather conditions [2]

#15 - It is expected that Canadian farmers will plant 7.2% more wheat in the spring of 2023 versus 2022 [2]

#16 - The grain sector is a key driver of Canada's economy, with $21 billion in export sales in 2017 [5]

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History of Wheat in Canada 

Wheat farming in Canada has a long and rich history. The first wheat crops were grown by European settlers who brought the grain with them. The first crop was planted in the 1600s and over time wheat farming became a significant source of income for many farmers and governments [2].

In the spring of 1909, Marquis was the first Canadian wheat variety to be developed and distributed to farmers. It became popular because it matured faster and had better milling and baking qualities than European varieties.

Marquis was later used as the standard for evaluating the quality of other Canadian wheat varieties. Prior to Marquis, a variety called Red Fife was the most commonly grown in the 1800s. Today, Canada is one of the world's leading exporters of wheat, exporting to dozens of countries all over the world.

Sustainable Wheat Farming in Canada

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There are countless examples of the agriculture industry, including wheat farmers, starving for better practices in terms of efficiency and sustainability. For example, no-till and conservation tillage methods have saved an estimated 20 billion kilograms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from being released into the atmosphere between 1996 and 2018. This is equivalent to removing 13 million cars from the road a year.

Another tactic used is rotating crops, which provides improved soil fertility and helps break pest and disease cycles. Precision agriculture is also used, utilizing innovations such as GPS, drones, sensors, soil sampling, and precision machinery to grow crops more efficiently. After harvest, some farmers plant a cover crop to reduce erosion, add organic matter, improve soil structure, reduce pests, and manage soil moisture.

These are just some of the methods used by wheat farmers in Canada who are steadfastly committed to reducing impacts on the environment.

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1 - Statistics Canada. More Canadian wheat would sure be sweet. Date accessed: December 2022 (https://www.statcan.gc.ca/o1/en/plus/1293-more-canadian-wheat-would-sure-be-sweet)

2 - Canadian Wheat Nutrition Initiative. Wheat in Canada. Date accessed: December 2022 (https://whataboutwheat.ca/canadian-wheat/wheat-in-canada/)

3 - Pauls, K. As war in Ukraine disrupts global wheat supply, what can Canada do to help? Date accessed: December 2022 (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ukraine-war-wheat-supply-1.6378561)

4 - Trade Finance Global - All You Need to Know About Wheat. Date accessed: December 2022 (https://www.tradefinanceglobal.com/grains/wheat/)

5 – Government of Canada – Government of Canada helps the wheat sector increase export market share, Date Accessed: December 2022 (https://www.canada.ca/en/agriculture-agri-food/news/2019/03/government-of-canada-helps-the-wheat-sector-increase-export-market-share.html)

6 - Open Access Government - Global demand for wheat set to increase by at least 50% by 2050, Date Accessed: December 2022 (https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/demand-for-wheat/83189/)