Industry Profile - Forage Seed

close up of alfalfa 

The climatic and agricultural conditions characteristic of Manitoba make it one of the most productive places in Canada to produce forage seed. The long warm summer days coupled with adequate moisture levels and a variety of different soil conditions found throughout the province provide ideal growing conditions for several forage seed species. This results in superior yields of top quality seed.

The production of quality forage seed has a long history in Manitoba and has become an important part of the Manitoba agricultural industry.

What began in the early part of the 1900's with the harvest of native wild grasses such as bluegrass, has developed into a growing industry with the production of many domesticated species. The constant introduction of new production and pollination techniques, such as alfalfa leafcutting bees in the 1970's as a pollinator for alfalfa seed and other crops, have become the backbone to our modern seed production industry. Manitoba currently produces forage seed on over 100,000 acres, which is approximately 30% of the Canadian total for forage seed acres. Those numbers include approximately 40% of the total Canadian acres for Alfalfa seed, 50% of the Timothy seed, 90% of the Birdsfoot Trefoil seed and 90% of the perennial ryegrass seed.


Manitoba is home to an increasing number of progressive and experienced forage seed producers who possess the management skills and the "know-how" to reliably produce forage seed stocks for world markets. Due to the relatively low need for forage seed in Manitoba, over 80% of the production leaves the province to markets in other parts of Canada, the United States and Europe. As a result of our high level of production and our history in exporting forage seed, Manitoba is serviced by seven major Canadian seed trade firms, four of which are located in Manitoba.

These seed trade firms work together with the producers and other industry partners in a coordinated effort to address production issues and develop new technologies. Cooperative efforts include such projects as herbicide development and agronomic practices.

The forage seed industry in Manitoba produces many types of forage seed crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Perennial Ryegrass, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Tall Fescue and Annual Ryegrass. Industry partners are currently developing seed production systems for other new forage seed crops such as Altai Wild Rye and turf grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass and Fine Fescues as well as native seed crops. In addition to these seed crops, Manitoba's experience and success in the leafcutting bee pollination industry has sparked a demand for Manitoba's bees across North America.

alfalfa seed 

Manitoba is recognized around the world for consistently supplying high quality seed as inputs to forage production systems. Manitoba will continue to forge international partnerships through which it can contribute to the improvement and enhancement of these forage production systems. If you require additional information of the Manitoba forage seed industry or wish to contact an individual within the industry, the following are several key contacts associated with the production of forage seed in Manitoba.

bees in a flower 

Information and Contacts

For further information on the Manitoba's Forage and Forage Seed Industry, please see...

...or contact the Provincial Forage Specialists - Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives

Industry Links

Leafcutter Bee Links