Seed and Forage Development

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Overview

A desire for better crop yields and a wider variety of crop production has bolstered the growth of this industry within the county. Farmers are demanding higher quality products to maximize their return on investment and ensure they are growing the crops that best suit their land type and overall financial objectives. Innovative practices, such as zero till planting and harvesting along with ebb and flood irrigation techniques allow some companies to gain a competitive advantage by reducing costs and the environmental impact on their land. Much of the innovation that is currently taking place in the local economy revolves around the number of companies with a focus on research to enhance the growth cycle and fortitude of the seeds and inputs associated with crop production.

Crop Production

Wheat is the major harvest of this region. Winter wheat, hard and soft spring wheat, and durum are processed locally and exported around the world. Other crops include barley, canola, flax, rye, oats and various specialty crops which are increasing in popularity because of their higher value. In addition to the major grains, the region produces the majority of Alberta’s specialty crops. These crops generally require irrigation and include potatoes, cabbage, carrots, corn, confection sunflowers, dry beans and peas, canning peas, lentils, onions, forage seed and sugar beets.
The acreage of specialty crops has been increasing due to their high value, improved plant breeding, machine development, processing and marketing options, low grain prices, and restrictive quotas for grain delivery. Many of these vegetables and other specialty crops are processed in Lethbridge County. Crop insurance and loans for beginning farmers are available through the Agricultural Financial Services Corporation.

Economic Impact

GROSS SALES = $16,172,000
TOTAL EMPLOYEES = 55
TOTAL PAYROLL = $2,422,900
• 20 per cent of producers indicated that they export approximately 99 per cent of their product
• 40 per cent of producers indicated that they had expansion plans for 2007

* This information reflects only a small portion of the economic impact of the industry based on aggregate data collected from 10 respondents to a survey conducted November 2006.

Industry Participants

BH Farms Ltd.
County of Lethbridge Seed Cleaning Co-op Ltd.
Haney Farms
Van Iron Farms
Malloy Farms Ltd.
Thomas Greenhouses
Rainbow Greenhouses Alberta Inc.
Wilbur-Ellis Company of Canada
Witdouck Farms Ltd.
Vale Farms Ltd.