Sask. or­ganic farm­ing sec­tor small but growth in dou­ble dig­its

Moose Jaw - - Sports - By Ron Wal­ter - For Agri-Mart Ex­press

Or­ganic farm­ing is a frac­tion of Saskatchewan agri­cul­ture out­put, but this province is a leader in this grow­ing farm tech­nique.

Most or­ganic crop va­ri­ety acres grew by dou­ble dig­its over five years, ac­cord­ing to the an­nual sur­vey by the Cana­dian Or­ganic Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion. Saskatchewan’s 1.16 mil­lion or­ganic acres use only 3.8 per cent of arable land and 1,105 or­ganic farms in 2017 ac­counted for 2.9 per cent of all farms. Five years ago, only 925 or­ganic farms ex­isted in this province.

Or­ganic acres amount to 37 per cent of Cana­dian acreage. Or­ganic acres have grown 30 per cent from 893,000 in 2012.

Ce­re­als make up the largest acreages with 169,000 in wheat, a de­cline of three per cent.

Ka­mut, an an­cient wheat crop, grew 53 per cent to 42,000 acres. Bar­ley acres grew 23 per cent to 41,000. Oats in­creased five per cent to 107,000 acres. A 20 per cent de­cline was reg­is­tered in rye to just un­der 14,000 acres, while other ce­re­als fell 21 per cent to 4,900 acres.

Lentil acres grew 41 per cent to 38,600 acres, while dried beans jumped 750 per cent to 1,700 acres. Dried peas grew 21 per cent to 33,700 acres, while other pulses and protein crops fell 88 per cent to 1,500 acres.

Flax took a big jump, 38 per cent to 67,000 acres among oilseeds, with mus­tard up 53 per cent to 12,200 acres. Soybeans fell from 1,100 to 400 acres. Hardly any or­ganic canola is grown in Saskatchewan, due to grow­ing dis­tance re­stric­tions from GMO canola fields.

Hemp grew to 5,500 acres from 2,300, while other field crops went from 2,100 to 5,700 acres. Pas­ture for­age and nat­u­ral ar­eas jumped 53 per cent to 607,500 acres.

Or­ganic fruits and veg­eta­bles de­clined from 4,500 acres in 2012 to 1,900 in 2017.

To­tal crop value in Saskatchewan was $186 mil­lion — about two per cent of Saskatchewan crop re­ceipts. The Prairies or­ganic food and bev­er­age mar­ket is worth $862 mil­lion. Al­berta crops with fewer farms and acres has $676 mil­lion, due to more pro­cess­ing and con­sumer level sales.

Sev­enty-four per cent of Al­berta gro­cery shop­pers choose or­gan­ics weekly, while 62 per cent of Saskatchewan and Man­i­toba shop­pers do the same.

Ron Wal­ter can be reached at ron­[email protected]­

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