Quality of western Canadian canola 2011

Weather and production review

Weather review

May and June were characterized by excess of moisture, associated with cooler than normal temperatures for the southern part of the prairies (Manitoba and Saskatchewan). This resulted in late seeding or no seeding at all in some areas of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The northern part of the prairies (northern Saskatchewan and Alberta) was warmer and dryer in May than the southern part, allowing for earlier seeding in the north. Overall, seeding was approximately 2 weeks delayed in 2011 with only 70% of the normal seeded area actually seeded early June. By end of June 2011, about 20% of the normal seeded areas remained unseeded, this represented about 2.63 millions hectares (6.5 million acres, CWB data).

Weather conditions changed drastically in June and July. Excessive moisture and cool temperatures delaying crop development were then observed in the northern part of the Prairies (northern regions of Saskatchewan and Alberta) whereas warm and dry conditions were observed in the south (southern regions of Manitoba and Saskatchewan). August showed dry and hot conditions for the entire prairie region, these conditions continued into September.

The poor early season growing conditions delayed seed emergence and then plant development resulting in a delayed harvest. September conditions were very favourable, so harvest proceeded faster than last year. However, the northwest part of Alberta and the Peace River areas were not completely harvested by end of October. In spite of the warm day time temperatures, a killer frost was observed mid-September in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the central and northeastern parts of Alberta. Localized frosts were observed in the north-west part of Alberta and in the Peace River region. At that time, about 40% of the seeded areas were harvested; this early frost may affect the quality of the canola crop that was still maturing.

More weather details and maps dealing with the 2011 growing conditions were reported in the 2011 preliminary report on canola quality (November 2011). Weather maps for the whole growing season can be found at: http://www4.agr.gc.ca/DW-GS/historical-historiques.jspx?lang=eng&jsEnabled=true.

A summary analysis of the weather of the 2011 growing season can also be found at: http://www.cwb.ca/public/en/farmers/grain/crop/.


Western Canadian farmers planted over 7.5 million hectares of canola in 2011 well over last year's area (Table 2). Statistics Canada's Field Crop Reporting Series No. 8 reported that the 2011 western Canada mean yield of 1,900 kg/ha, slightly lower than the records yields reported in 2009 and 2008, 1,950 and 1,945 kg/ha, respectively. This yield is above the 5-year mean of 1,823 kg/ha. The 2011 production was a record 14.06 million metric tonnes of canola, well above last year's production (11.78 million tonnes).

According to Statistics Canada's estimates of provincial production (December 3, 2011, Field Crop Reporting Series), Manitoba (MB), Saskatchewan (SK), and Alberta/British Columbia (AB/BC) accounted for 11.8, 49.9 and 37.9% respectively of the total canola production (Table 2). Yields were much lower in Manitoba (1,600 kg/ha) than in Saskatchewan (1,800 kg/ha) or Alberta (2,200 kg/ha) in 2011. Lower yields (1,600 kg/ha in 2011 versus 1,800 kg/ha in 2010) and a large unseeded areas (1.01 million hectares or 2.5 million acres) were responsible for the lower Manitoba canola production in 2011 when compared to 2010.

Table 2 - Seeded area and production for western Canadian canola
  Seeded area Production¹ Average production²
thousand hectares thousand tonnes thousand tonnes
2011 2010 2011 2010 2006-2010
¹ Source: Field Crop Reporting Series, No. 8, Vol 90, December 6th, 2011; Statistics Canada.
² Source: Field Crop Reporting Series, revised final estimates for 2006-2010.
³ Includes the part of the Peace River area that is in British Columbia.
Manitoba 1,102.8 1,363.9 1,655.6 2,215.8 2,232.1
Saskatchewan 3,957.8 3,156.5 7,019.3 5,034.9 4,807.2
Alberta³ 2,523.2 2,246.0 5,385.7 4,525.8 3,716.1
Western Canada 7,583.8 6,766.3 14,060.6 11,776.5 10,755.4