Canola area surpassed spring wheat area in Saskatchewan

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The 2011 Census of Agriculture showed that canola area surpassed spring wheat area for the top spot among field crops in Saskatchewan. Since 2006, canola area increased 63.6% to 9.8 million acres while spring wheat area decreased 16.5% to 8.0 million acres. The province accounted for over half (50.5%) of the canola area in the country. Despite the decrease in spring wheat area, Saskatchewan continued to report the largest area of spring wheat with 47.4% of Canada’s total.

Largest reported area of lentils

Since 2006, the total lentil area in Saskatchewan increased 94.1% to 2.5 million acres in 2011, accounting for 96.0% of the total lentil area in the country.

Gross farm receipts increased

Saskatchewan’s gross farm receipts in 2010, the year prior to the census, increased 10.2% (at 2010 constant prices) to $9.4 billion, from 2005. At the national level there was a 3.9% increase in gross farm receipts between 2005 and 2010.

Operators spent an average of 76 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2010, about 12 cents less than they spent in 2005. Saskatchewan had the country’s lowest ratio of expenses to receipts at 0.76, due mainly to the predominance of oilseed and grain farms.

Oilseed and grain farm and beef farm types accounted for 77.0% and 11.7% of total 2010 gross farm receipts respectively. The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) provides a framework for classifying farms based on the commodities they produce and the value of these commodities. The farm types presented in this document are derived based on this system.

Farm numbers decreased

The 2011 Census of Agriculture counted 36,952 census farms in Saskatchewan, a 16.6% decrease since 2006. This compares to a 10.3% decrease at the national level. A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces agricultural products intended for sale.

Saskatchewan accounted for 18.0% of Canada’s 205,730 farms in 2011, slightly lower than its share in 2006. Saskatchewan’s total ranked third in Canada.

More larger farms

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms with $500,000 or more (at 2010 constant prices) of 2010 gross farm receipts increased by 44.9% between censuses, and those with less than $500,000 decreased by 21.6%. There were 4,764 of these larger farms in Saskatchewan in 2011, and while they only represented 12.9% of all farms in the province, they accounted for 60.0% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2010.

Farm operators

Saskatchewan reported 49,475 farm operators in 2011, 16.4% lower than in 2006, following the trend in the number of farms. In 2011, 22.9% of Saskatchewan farm operators were women, while nationally, this percentage was 27.4%.

The average age of a farm operator in Saskatchewan in 2011 was 54.2 years compared with 52.6 years in 2006. Nationally, the average age of a farm operator in 2011 was 54.0 years, up from 52.0 years in 2006.

In 2010, 46.6% of all Saskatchewan farm operators worked more than 40 hours a week on average on their farm operations, compared to 52.7% five years earlier. At the national level, this percentage was 40.1% in 2010.

In 2010, 46.1% of all Saskatchewan farm operators had an off-farm job or business compared to 48.3% in 2005. At the national level, this percentage was 46.9% in 2010.

According to the Census of Agriculture, 30.8% of Saskatchewan operators who were under the age of 35 on census day worked off the farm for more than 40 hours a week on average in 2010, compared to 23.8% of operators aged 35 to 54, and 10.0% of operators over 55 years of age.

Farm area

Total farm area in Saskatchewan decreased 4.1% between 2006 and 2011 to 61.6 million acres. Saskatchewan had 38.5% of the total farm area in Canada in 2011.

Despite the decrease in total farm area, average area per farm increased. Farms in Saskatchewan averaged 1,668 acres in 2011, up from 1,449 acres five years earlier. Saskatchewan had the largest average farm size in the country and the greatest increase in average farm size, at 15.1%.

Of the total farm area in Saskatchewan, 59.1% was cropland, an increase from the 57.5% reported in 2006. Farmers reported 36.4 million acres of cropland in Saskatchewan in 2011, down from 37.0 million acres in 2006. The province accounted for 41.7% of cropland reported in Canada. Cropland is the total area used in field crops, hay, fruits, field vegetables, sod and nursery.

Proportion of cropland, Saskatchewan, 2006 and 2011
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of cropland. The information is grouped by Composition of cropland (appearing as row headers), Percent of cropland (appearing as column headers).
Composition of cropland Percent of cropland
2011 2006
Field crops 87.4 86.1
Hay 12.6 13.9

Almost all the cropland in Saskatchewan was reported as field crops and hay (Table 1). The proportion of field crops increased from 86.1% in 2006 to 87.4% in 2011. Alfalfa and tame hay represented 12.6% of the cropland in Saskatchewan in 2011 compared to 13.9% in 2006. Increased prices for cash crops coupled with declining beef cattle and pig numbers led to a shift from forages and crops traditionally used for feed to more profitable cash crops.

Summerfallow as a proportion of total farm area in Saskatchewan decreased to 5.8% in 2011 from 9.3% in 2006. Saskatchewan experienced flooding in the spring and summer of 2011 and land reported to the 2011 Census of Agriculture as “too wet to seed” has been categorized as “other land” and not cropland or summerfallow; this land could shift back to cropland when conditions improve.


In 2011, Saskatchewan had the second largest cattle herd in the country after Alberta, with 20.7% of the national total. The number of cattle in the province decreased from 3.4 million head in 2006 to 2.6 million head in 2011, a 21.5% decrease. The number of beef cattle reported for breeding purposes (beef cows and beef heifers) decreased by 20.6% since 2006, totalling 1.3 million head in 2011.

Saskatchewan had the second largest bison herd in the country with 39,343 head, a 31.5% decrease. Saskatchewan now accounts for 31.4% of the national herd, a slight increase since 2006. 

Organic farms

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, there were 1,064 farms with certified organic and/or transitional production in Saskatchewan. This represented 2.9% of all farms in the province. Nationwide, 2.0% of all farms reported certified organic and/or transitional production. Saskatchewan had the highest number of certified organic operations in the country despite a 14.6% decrease since 2006.

The predominant category of certified organic and/or transitional products reported in Saskatchewan was field crops and hay and it was reported by 97.5% of the province’s 1,064 certified organic and/or transitional operations.

Other agricultural highlights in Saskatchewan

  • In 2011, Saskatchewan continued to report the largest areas of spring wheat, durum wheat, oats, rye, canola, flaxseed, dry field peas, chickpeas, lentils, as well as mustard, canary and caraway seed in Canada.
  • Durum wheat area increased 14.8% to 3.7 million acres in 2011.
  • After a steady rise between each of the census years from 1991 to 2006, flaxseed area decreased 47.4% to 812,437 acres in 2011 compared to 2006.
  • The area reported in hay and feed grains declined in 2011. Hay area decreased 11.0% to 4.6 million acres, barley area decreased 33.8% to 2.3 million acres, oat area decreased 25.7% to 1.7 million acres and mixed grain area decreased 43.1% to 85,786 acres.
  • Sour cherry area continued to increase in Saskatchewan with a 37.5% increase from 2006 to a total of 220 acres in 2011.
  • The area of saskatoons decreased by 19.4% to 875 acres in 2011, down from 1,086 acres in 2006.
  • Total vegetable area decreased 5.9%, from 813 acres in 2006 to 765 acres in 2011.The largest vegetable areas in Saskatchewan were for sweet corn, cabbage, and pumpkins.
  • Pollinating bees (excluding honeybees) decreased by 44.8% to 122,706 gallons in 2011, down from 222,380 gallons in 2006. There were 82,452 honeybee colonies reported in 2011, down from 91,254 in 2006.
  • In Saskatchewan, no-till methods were used on 70.1% of the land prepared for seeding in 2011, up from 60.2% in 2006. Conventional tillage decreased to 9.7% of land prepared for seeding, from 18.3% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on 20.2% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 21.5% in 2006.
  • The 2011 Census marked the first time farm operators were asked to report the area from which crop residue was baled for bedding or sale. In 2010, crop residue was baled from 1.3 million acres in Saskatchewan – the second largest area reported in the country.
  • High-speed internet access was reported by 47.9% of all farms in Saskatchewan, while the national average was 44.8%.
  • In Saskatchewan 32.9% of all farms in the province reported paid labour for the year 2010. The census counted 28,904 paid employees, of whom 36.8% worked year-round in a full or part-time capacity while 63.2% were seasonal or temporary employees.

A snapshot in time

The 2011 Census of Agriculture is the most recent measure of the overall state of Canadian agriculture and its wealth of data provides a valuable snapshot of the sector. The census program provides a data continuum stretching back to 1921, while agricultural data has been collected since the first Census of Canada in 1871.

Since the previous Census of Agriculture in 2006, fluctuating commodity prices in certain sectors as well as changing costs of fertilizers, fuel, seed and livestock feed affected the farming community. The residual effects of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and avian influenza were also issues.

During the time the census was being collected in 2011, many farm operators were confronted with challenges related to flooding and exceedingly wet conditions in some regions of the Prairies.  However, many changes have since ensued, including favourable commodity prices in some sectors as well as continued evolution in global economic conditions, and some of these factors have benefited the Canadian agricultural sector. At the same time, many farm operators continue to adapt their production and farming practices to become more efficient and to respond to market factors and consumer demands.

These developments, as well as the dynamic and complex nature of the Canadian agricultural industry, are an important reminder that the Census is a snapshot of the agricultural sector that captures its state at a point in time, and does not measure the annual fluctuations between census years.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Saskatchewan for participation and assistance in the 2011 Census of Agriculture.

For further information regarding the Census of Agriculture, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre at 613-951-8116 or toll-free 1-800-263-1136;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Rosemari Villani at 613-951-2889, Census of Agriculture, Agriculture.


Census farm

An operation is considered a census farm (agricultural operation) if it produces at least one of the following products intended for sale:

  • Crops: Hay, field crops, tree fruits or nuts, berries or grapes, vegetables, seed
  • Livestock: Cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, game animals, other livestock
  • Poultry: Hens, chickens, turkeys, chicks, game birds, other poultry
  • Animal products: Milk or cream, eggs, wool, furs, meat
  • Other agricultural products: Christmas trees, sod, greenhouse, or nursery products, mushrooms, honey or bees, maple syrup and its products

The data for the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories are not included in the national totals because of the different definition of an agricultural operation in the territories and confidentiality constraints. The data for the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories are presented separately.

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Certified organic

An operation or products are referred to as "certified organic" when certification has taken place. Certification refers to the procedure whereby a certification body accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides written assurance that products and production systems conform to specified requirements. Certification may be based on a range of inspection activities including verification of management practices, auditing of quality assurance systems and in/out production balances. (Source: Canada Organic Office Operating Manual)

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Transitional organic

Transitional organic refers to those who were in the process of undertaking the three-year process of having all or part of their operations certified organic at the time of the 2011 Census of Agriculture.

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Gross farm receipts

The Census of Agriculture measures gross farm receipts for the calendar or accounting year prior to the census.

Gross farm receipts (before deducting expenses) in this analysis include:

  • receipts from all agricultural products sold
  • program payments and custom work receipts.

The following are not included in gross farm receipts:

  • sales of forestry products (for example: firewood, pulpwood, logs, fence posts and pilings)
  • sales of capital items (for example: quota, land, machinery)
  • receipts from the sale of any goods purchased only for retail sales.

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2005 to 2010

Some data refer to a reference period other than Census Day. For example, for financial data the reference period is the calendar or accounting (fiscal) year prior to the census.

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Farm type

Farm type is established through a procedure that classifies each census farm according to the predominant type of production. This is done by estimating the potential receipts from the inventories of crops and livestock reported on the questionnaire and determining the product or group of products that make up the majority of the estimated receipts. For example, a census farm with total potential receipts of 60% from hogs, 20% from beef cattle and 20% from wheat, would be classified as a hog and pig farm. The farm types presented in this document are derived based on the 2007 North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). The chart below shows how these derived farm types relate to NAICS.

Census of Agriculture derived categories NAICS five-digit classes Dairy Dairy cattle and milk production  Beef Beef cattle ranching and farming, including feedlots Hog and pig Hog and pig farming Poultry and egg Chicken egg production  Broiler and other meat-type chicken production Turkey production Poultry hatcheries Combination poultry and egg production All other poultry production  Sheep and goat Sheep farming Goat farming Other animal Apiculture Horse and other equine production Fur-bearing animal and rabbit production Animal combination farming All other miscellaneous animal production Oilseed and grain Soybean farming Oilseed (except soybean) farming Dry pea and bean farming Wheat farming Corn farming Other grain farming Vegetable and melon Potato farming Other vegetable (except potato) and melon farming Fruit and tree-nut Fruit and tree nut farming Greenhouse and nursery Mushroom production Other food crops grown under cover Nursery and tree production Floriculture production Other crop Tobacco farming Hay farming Fruit and vegetable combination farming Maple syrup and products production All other miscellaneous crop farming

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Farm operator

According to the census, a farm operator is any person responsible for the management decisions made for an agricultural operation as of May 10, 2011.

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