Canada's Canary Seed Industry
Canada is the world's largest producer and exporter of canary seed (Phalaris canariensis), a cool-season crop grown in Saskatchewan and other parts of western Canada. The commercial production of the crop began in western Canada in the late 1970's and early 1980's. It grows best on heavy clay or clay loam, moisture retentive soils. Native to southern Europe and the Middle East, this meter-tall grass is a major component of feed mixtures for caged and wild birds. Canary seed is currently used almost exclusively as birdseed.
Traditionally, the two registered canary seed varieties produced in Canada are Keet and Elias. However, Canada recently developed a new glabrous (hairless) kind of canary seed registered under the trademark CanarioTM.
CanarioTM is expected to replace traditional canary seed over the next few years because it maintains the high protein of regular canary seed, while being less irritating to the skin during handling. This makes it the perfect option for birdseed processors and packagers. It will also further enhance Canada's competitive edge in the canary seed market by increasing the volume of seed per shipping container and by eliminating the oiling and polishing steps in processing.
New CanarioTM varieties are subject to strict quality standards. Based on commercial pedigreed seed standards, CanarioTM varieties must be 97% hairless in order to bear the CanarioTM trademark, which is the processor's guarantee of purity.
Canary seed has high protein, high oil as well as 84% unsaturated edible oil content. In addition, canary seed has a high starch content making it suitable for some industrial uses, such as the cosmetics sector.
Products and Uses
As populations and incomes continue to grow, and as an increasing number of people around the world are keeping birds as pets, the demand for canary seed looks strong.
Source: Forecast based on August-July crop year, Market Analysis Division, Strategic Policy Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, September 20, 2006.
Canary Seed Statistics
For the latest market information and analysis available from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, please consult the following publications:
Canary Seed Association of Canada
212-111 Research Drive
Canary Seed in Alberta
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Canary Seed in Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives