With soybean acres continuing to soar in Manitoba, it appears soybeans are catching on in Saskatchewan too.
Actual acreage data is scarce given the crop’s recent expansion into Saskatchewan, but Dale Risula, a crops specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture, estimated that about 70,000 acres were sown in 2012.
“The interest in soybeans seems very strong,” said Risula adding that area could rise to 90,000 acres. However, most Saskatchewan growers interested in the crop likely haven’t planted soybeans before, and Risula is recommending they start with a small area.
“A lot of work needs to be done in the area of variety identification and development before (soybeans) become one of the more major crops grown here consistently,” said Risula adding that “it’s a big risk to jump into soybeans in a big way.”
Risula said the cost of production right now favours soybeans over canola, as soybeans do not require expensive nitrogen inputs. Soybeans are also easier to harvest than other pulse options, such as peas or lentils.
Seed supplies will likely need to be imported from other jurisdictions, such as Manitoba and North Dakota, to meet the demand, said Risula. Those varieties may not have been tested in Saskatchewan, which creates performance uncertainty.
Farmers in neighbouring Manitoba have been growing soybeans for over a decade, with acreage rising from 50,000 in 2001 (the first year of official survey results) to 800,000 in 2012, according to Statistics Canada data.