Global Grain blog



Published March 2018 by Gary Stanford, President & Director, Grain Growers of Canada & Alberta Wheat Commission


Gary Stanford, President and Director, Grain Growers of Canada and Alberta Wheat Commission

Given Canada’s famously cool climate, people are often curious which crops are typically grown in Canada. In truth, there really is no “typical” Canadian farm, with the country’s vast size and varied geography. Canada produces everything from tulips, to cranberries and pumpkins to wheat. Canada stretches 5500 kilometers wide from coast to coast and farms vary in elevation from 30 meters above sea level to 1500 meters above sea level. Farms also contrast considerably in size, any where from a few acres to tens of thousands of acres.


Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada tend to grow warmer season crops, while Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta produce the majority of the cooler season (more frost tolerant) grain and oilseed crops.


In western Canada, with higher elevations and shorter growing seasons, canola and wheat are the primary crops by acreage. Around 20 million acres of canola are grown annually almost entirely in the west. Canada is the largest exporter of canola in the world. It is valued for its healthy and stable oil profile, and it is used extensively as an edible oil and, to a lesser extent, as an industrial product. The majority of Canadian produced canola is exported to Asian markets via Canada’s west coast terminals. Canola meal is the by-product of canola oil expulsion and is used as a livestock feed.


There are nine classes of wheat grown in western Canada and each class is grouped by functional characteristics such as kernel hardness and dough strength. Most of the wheat produced is Hard Red Spring Wheat, which along with Winter Wheat and Canada Prairie Spring classes comprise the bulk of exports. Canadian Amber Durum is exported to a number of international destinations for the production of pasta and other semolina products. 


Relative to pulse crops, Canada is the largest exporter in the world. Including peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas, 85% of these Canadian grown crops are exported to 150 countries.


Although they represent smaller acres, oats are a relevant export crop for Canadian producers. Canada fills 75% of the world’s oat demand, most of it for human consumption. 


Another significant crop for Western Canada is malting barley. Well adapted to the cooler prairie climate, the success of this crop has also led to a strong domestic malting industry. Both malt and malt barley are exported.


With growing international demand for healthy and versatile oils, flax production continues to expand. It, too, is well suited to the western Canadian climate.


Grain and oilseed crops produced in the eastern half of Canada are typically exported to the United States or Europe. These crops include wheat, barley, oats, flax, corn, canola and pulse crops. There are 10 classes of wheat grown in eastern Canada. For example, Amber Durum is exported to southern Europe for the pasta industry.  Looking to future growth, Canada anticipates growth in sales to North Africa, also through our eastern export channels.


To maintain, as well as grow, our export relationships, Canada is investing heavily to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. These improvements include: expanded coastal port terminals, railroad improvements and more and larger container loading facilities. Given Canada’s expanse and winter conditions, transportation infrastructure is a critical piece in our agricultural export picture.


Additionally, Canada continues to work to open new markets and reduce tariffs via trade agreements and trade missions.


Canada is working on having very Sustainable Agriculture. The future is very important to farmers and Industry and we are working on Soil Erosion, and Wetlands for the wildlife.  Traceability is also important for our customers so they know they are buying healthy grains and livestock. 






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