The unique growing conditions in south central Manitoba make it one of the most productive places in Canada to grow buckwheat.
The abundance of insects, such as honeybees, provides for greater success of the cross-pollination of the different flower types.
The balanced fertility of the soil and the lengthy growing season characteristic of the region ensure the proper growing environment for buckwheat.
The presence of these conditions results in Manitoba producing over 70% of Canada's buckwheat crop. Consequently, Manitoba is known as the "Buckwheat Capital of Canada".
Buckwheat production is a relatively small but nonetheless important part of the Manitoba agricultural industry.
Manitoba currently has approximately 400 buckwheat producers who harvest between 20 and 30 thousand acres annually.
Yearly yields fluctuate with the growing conditions of the season but the most recent ten-year average is 17.1 bushels per acre.
Since there is little demand for buckwheat locally, Manitoba produces it primarily for the export market and approximately two-thirds of the production is exported.
Buckwheat is primarily exported to Japan, where the flavour and aroma of Manitoba buckwheat meets the requirements of Japanese noodle makers.
Other nations who import Manitoba buckwheat include the Netherlands, United States and Austria.
Manitoba buckwheat is cleaned and graded to export standard in cleaning facilities around the province, and then shipped by truck or rail to the necessary port for export.
Small amounts are bagged for local sale, or occasionally it is ground into whole or coarse buckwheat grits and then bagged and sold locally.
Due to our market-oriented production of buckwheat, industry participants have made on-going efforts to develop suitable varieties for international markets. Researchers, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives extension staff, producers, processors and consumers all remain in close contact and work cooperatively to ensure suitable varieties of buckwheat are produced for the world markets.
For example, the task of improving large seeded buckwheat is one of the current projects being undertaken and is largely being led by private industry. Canadian buckwheat industry players, representing all facets of the buckwheat industry (processing, growers, university, federal and provincial governments) have established an ad hoc committee called the North American Buckwheat Promotion Committee which serves as a technical advisory committee to the Canadian Special Crops Association (CSCA) Market and Development Committee.
This Promotion Committee is currently developing a strategy for buckwheat promotion within North America.
To ensure the Canadian standards for buckwheat are always maintained, statutory grades have been established under the Canada Grain Act.
As new varieties of buckwheat are introduced for commercial production, the grades are amended to include these new varieties while always maintaining the high Canadian quality standards. The ideal growing conditions characteristic of south-central Manitoba ensure that Manitoba producers are exceeding the quality standards set out for Canadian buckwheat.
Manitoba producers have a long tradition of growing buckwheat and a reputation for sound management experience. The province is recognized for its production of top quality buckwheat and a commitment to meet customer demand domestically and internationally.
Mila Ruiz Turiaf
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