Pulses in Canada
Pulses grown in Canada include, mainly, dry beans, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas. According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, pulses represented approximately 6% of field crop area in Canada in 2011, while wheat and canola accounted for almost 50%. Pulse area and production in Canada has increased since the 1980s, making the country one of the leading producers and exporters of pulses worldwide.
The development and expansion of the pulse industry was closely tied to its profitability, research into new varieties that resist lodging and disease or have a shorter growing season, and the growth of processing facilities. The majority of pulse variety registrations in Canada have been developed in public breeding programs, funded through private-public-producer check offs in exchange for royalty-free access to the new varieties developed. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and both the University of Saskatchewan (the Crop Development Centre) and the University of Guelph developed the majority of new pulse varieties.
In 2011, Saskatchewan was home to the largest pulse area in the country with 1.7 million hectares. This represented 79.3% of the total pulse area in Canada. Saskatchewan accounted for 68.3% of dry pea area, 86.9% of chickpea area, and 96.0% of lentil area. The Prairie provinces have a particular advantage in growing most pulse varieties due to soil, climate, and the development of innovation networks, such as the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. Other advantages for these provinces are access to western ports for shipping to markets in China, India and Turkey and industry advocates (Table 1).
Ontario reported the largest area of dry beans, accounting for 38.4% of the national area in 2011. Manitoba and Alberta reported the next largest areas with 32.1% and 18.8% of the national area, respectively. Ontario and Manitoba grow both white and coloured beans, while Alberta production focused primarily on coloured beans.