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Crop Rotations in Northwestern Saskatchewan

By Cory Jacob, PAg, Provincial Specialist Oilseed Crops, Regina, Sara Tetland, Crops Extension Specialist, Moose Jaw and Erin Campbell. Crops Extension Specialist, North Battleford

July 2020

The Crop Rotations in Northwest Saskatchewan charts were compiled to show that there is currently a lack of crop diversity and crop rotation in Saskatchewan, particularly in the northern and eastern parts of the province. Analyzing the data also confirms that a lot of fields are grown under tight crop rotations and we are hoping to provide other profitable crop options for farms to grow in the black soil zone. This dataset focuses on Northwestern Saskatchewan as that is where the majority of fields infected with clubroot are located in the province and this is partially due to tight rotations and a lack of crop diversity in the region.

The information in the charts is from the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC). The data is taken from crop district 9B, which is the very Northwestern part of Saskatchewan and includes Lloydminster and Meadow Lake. The data stretches from 2008 – 2018 which is 11 years and includes a fields with at least nine out of 11 years of history with SCIC. The minimum field size included was 130 acres and there were approximately 4,500 fields.

Canola was grown four out of 11 years in 1,179 fields and five out of 11 years in 1,149 fields. Therefore, a total of 2,328 out of 4,595 fields or about half of the fields saw canola grown very frequently. 455 fields of the 4,595 (approximately 10 per cent of fields) saw canola grown twice in the 11 years. On the other side, 88 of the fields were seeded to canola seven out of 11 years, 16 fields saw canola eight out of 11 years and four fields were seeded to canola nine out of 11 years, essentially a canola monoculture.

When looking at the frequency of wheat and canola in rotation, 3,030 out of the 4,595 fields (two thirds of the fields) were seeded to wheat and/or canola more than six times in 11 years and one quarter of the fields had either wheat and/or canola grown eight or nine times out of 11 years.

The frequency of cereal and canola grown over the 11 years showed that 2,939 out of the 4,595 fields or 64 per cent was seeded to a cereal and/or canola eight or more times in the 11 years.

1,178 of the 4,595 fields or approximately one-quarter of the fields saw only wheat, canola and/ or peas over the 11 years.

Canola yields were grouped into categories based on the type of crop stubble that the canola was grown on. Out of all the canola fields, 73 per cent of canola was grown on wheat stubble, eight per cent on canola stubble, seven per cent on barley stubble, two per cent on oats stubble, eight per cent on field pea stubble and two per cent on summer fallow. When comparing yields, canola on canola stubble had average to slightly lower yields, canola on pulse stubble had increased yields and canola on cereal stubble had average yields. This data shows that there is a yield penalty for canola on canola versus canola on pulse stubble.

The 2020 Crop Planning Guide can be used to help producer estimate the costs and returns of producing different common crops. Based on the numbers in the guide other crops that can be grown in the black soil zone (NW SK) can be just as profitable as canola or wheat. Canola returns $223.86 over variable expenses and wheat returns $176.44. Crop options such as faba bean return $152.25 over variable expenses, hybrid fall rye $122.33, flax $236.56, winter wheat $94.89, canary seed $268.28, oats $213,83, green peas $445.42 and yellow peas $149.21. There are many crop options to select from that are still profitable in Northwest Saskatchewan.

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