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Grain Production in Canada

Grains grown in Canada include wheat, barley, corn, oats and rye.  Among the oilseeds produced here are canola, soybeans, flaxseed, safflower and sunflower.  Canada produces about 7% of the world’s total supply of wheat and barley but accounts for between 15% and 20% of world exports.






Graph 1 – Distribution of World Export Markets for Canadian Wheat

(average 1990-2000)(2)




In the Canadian West, wheat remains the main crop, accounting for approximately 60% of total grain production.  Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) accounts for almost 80% of total wheat production.   Depending on growing and harvesting conditions, CWRS can range from high-quality, high-protein wheat to low-protein wheat used as feed in Canada.  The second-most important class of wheat is Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD); this high-quality durum wheat, produced in Canada, is recognized worldwide and is subject to strong demand from pasta and semolina manufacturers.  In Central and Eastern Canada, winter wheats – particularly Soft White Winter – dominate production.


Usually, about 90% of all Canadian wheat production is exported.   Averaged over a five-year period (1994-1998), Canada occupies sixth place among the world’s major wheat-producing countries, preceded (in order of importance) by China, the European Union, the United States, India and the Russian Federation.


In terms of international trade, however, Canada is the world’s second-largest exporter of wheat after the United States; with annual exports averaging approximately 20 million tonnes, this country accounts for about 20% of the world market for wheat exports.(1)


Averaged over a ten-year period, China and Japan are by far Canada’s principal customers for wheat and flour, followed by Iran, South Korea, Brazil and Algeria.  However, a new trend has been emerging since the early 1990s, as the United States has moved into second place as a customer for Canada’s wheat, with average imports of Canadian wheat fluctuating around 1.5 million tonnes per year.  In more recent years (1996-1999), Iran, the United States, Japan, China and Indonesia have been the major customers for Canadian wheat.


Canada is by far the major exporter of hard (durum) wheat, and its average annual exports amount to nearly three million tonnes, or 48% of total world exports.  Algeria and Italy have traditionally been Canada’s two largest customers in this area, but demand from the United States has been growing steadily since the early 1990s.






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