Agriculture and Food Processing - Commodities: Special Crops

Canary Seed

About the Industry | Processing | Trade | Research | Contacts

Canary Seed - close-upThe Manitoba Advantage

The unique climate of Manitoba makes it one of the most productive places in the world to grow canary seed.

Canary seed, being a cool season crop, is well adapted to the long warm days and cool nights characteristic of the growing season on the Canadian prairies.

Since canary seed can be successfully grown wherever wheat grows well and Manitoba is one of Canada's three main wheat-growing provinces, Manitoba is well suited for canary seed production.

About the Industry

Although Manitoba's annual canary seed production fluctuates sharply with world prices, each year Manitoba is generally the second largest contributor to Canada's total canary seed production.

Canary seed production was first recorded in Manitoba in 1963 when 1,500 acres were harvested. The area seeded to canary seed then increased steadily until 1986, when 57,000 acres were harvested.

Since this time, the area seeded to canary seed has varied significantly with the volatility of the price, reaching levels greater than 60,000 acres, but also declining to levels as low as 15,000 acres.

The 10-year average yield is 965 pounds per acre, with the largest ever yield occurring in 1990 when over 1,330 pounds per acre were harvested.

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Once the canary seed is harvested, it is delivered to cleaning facilities where the foreign material is removed and the seed is cleaned to 98 percent purity (five percent hulled).

At the present time, canary seed is not graded at the cleaning facilities because it is not a crop that is regulated under the Canadian Grain Act and therefore it does not fall under a grade standard.

Locally, the seed is cleaned and bagged, or cleaned and mixed with other seed and bagged for sale as birdseed. Approximately one-half of Manitoba's canary seed production is shipped to a large cleaning facility outside of the province where it is cleaned and loaded onto ships for export.


Some of the canary seed cleaned at Manitoba facilities is destined for sale in the local market. However, some portion of the locally cleaned seed is also shipped directly to the United States, Mexico and the South American countries of Brazil and Venezuela.

The canary seed that is sent out of province for cleaning typically ends up on ships bound for Western Europe, mainly to Belgium and the United Kingdom. A small amount of the seed cleaned out-of-province is also bagged and sold in the domestic birdseed market across Canada.

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Canary seed currently has one main market -- it is a major component of feed mixtures for caged and wild birds.

However, Canadian researchers are also exploring industrial use and human consumption markets.

Current research is aimed at eliminating the hull hairs, which have been linked to esophageal cancer and other respiratory health problems in humans.

Recent research success has seen the introduction of a glabrous (hairless) variety called CDC Maria.

The development of this hairless canary seed will enhance Canada's competitive position in the canary seed market by increasing the volume of seed per shipping container.

Other research is being conducted into the potential use of canary seed husks through the extraction of organic silica -- a significant health market product -- and, with Health Canada approval, the possibility of extending the use of canary seed to human consumption purposes.

It is this on-going research and the optimal growing conditions that help Canadian producers be world leaders in canary seed production.

Contact: Address: Other Links:

Mila Ruiz Turiaf

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Tel:  204-945-2466
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Manitoba Trade & Investment
1100 - 259 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba,
Canada R3B 3P4

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