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Chapter 5. The Changing Pattern of Agronomy and Horticulture in Canada
R. R. MOKIBBIN
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c. Corn and Soybeans
d. Fhnge Development
V. Horticulture, b y M. B. DAVIS
1. Horticultural Trends
2. Changing Methods
3. New Varieties
4. Organic Soils
5. Greenhouse Crops
6. The Future
VI. Tobacco, b,y N. A. MACRAE
3. Fertilizers and Soil Amendments
1. Agriculture in the Natiomal Economy
During the last forty years, between 1911 and 1951, Canada's national economy has expanded greatly. The population of Canada has
approximately doubled and the total annual external trade has increased
more than tenfold in the last four decades. The effect of the two World
Wars has been enormous. During and immediately after the 1914-1918
war Canada's total external trade more than trebled, increasing from
$769,450,000 in 1911 to $2,450,000,000 in 1921. Following World War
I1 Canada's external trade rose in 1951 to $8,048,000,000.
As shown in the last four Census Reports, profound changes have occurred, also, in Canadian agriculture.
Uross Value of Total Production, and of Agricultural, Manufacturing, Pulp and
Paper, and Mineral Production in Canada
Gross value of production, in thousands of dollars
Agricultural Manufacturing and paper
Data from aanada Bureau of Statistics.
CHANGING PATTERN OF AGRONOMY AND HORTICULTURE IN CANADA
Although the value of agriculture has expanded in 1951 to nearly three
times that of 1921, the relative value of manufacturing and of certain
other industries has risen a t a much faster rate. This situation was well
expressed by Booth (1951) :
agriculture was relatively more important than i t is today; nearly
two-thirds of the population were classified as rural and about 40% of the gainfully
employed were engaged in farming
Today the rural population is in the minority
and of the working force less than a quarter is engaged in agriculture. This is the
inevitable development of a young country richly endowed with a variety of natural
resources. Agriculture is still one of our most important industries, however, and
in some respects more important today than at the beginning of the century.
The gross value of agricultural production in 1921, as shown in Table
I, was about one-third of the total gross value of production in Canada,
whereas in 1951 it was only one-sixth. It should be remarked, however,
that there is some duplication in the values shown in this table for manufacturing, as these include the value of unprocessed or partly processed
materials obtained from agriculture and other basic industries. Of
course, inflation of currency accounts for part of the increased dollar
The value of the production per farm in Canada between 1901 and
1950 has increased over 100 per cent. Both scientific research and mechanization have contributed in bringing about increased farm output.
2. Agronomic Trends
The area devoted to field crops in Canada has more than doubled in
forty years, rising from 30,556,000 acres in 1911 to 64,049,000 in 1951.
The values of field crops have increased over fivefold during the period,
from $384,514,000 in 1911 to an estimated $1,977,000,000 in 1951. Wheat
is the most outstanding Canadian crop, with oats in second place, and
hay, barley, potatoes, and tobacco following in that order. Of these six
field crops tobacco, barley, and wheat have increased most in relative
production and values between 1911 and 1951. Mixed grains, chiefly
oats and barley seeded in 50 :50 mixture, is an important crop in Quebec
Pasture acreage in Canada, both improved and unimproved, has
steadily increased during the past four decades. Of the total of 10,005,000 a.cres improved pasture in 1951, 6,523,364 acres, or almost two-thirds,
was in the six eastern provinces ; whereas of the 54,414,000 acres of unimproved pasture in 1951, 46,788,600 acres, or about four-fifths, was
in the three Prairie Provinces and British Columbia. The improvement
and better utilization of pastures is of major concern to Canada’s live-
R. R. MCKIBBIN
stock growers, forage plant breeders, and soils and field husbandry specialists.
The various sections of this article have been prepared by different
authors assisted by other specialists. There are many points of similar
interest in the diverse fields of agronomy and horticulture, such as the
effects of soils, climates, diseases, insects, and economic conditions. For
specific information on the articles in various fields the reader is advised
to refer to the Table of Contents.
Section 11, on Cereals, describing the trends in cereal production,
gives information on the progress of cereal breeding and the successive
introduction of new varieties of cereals designed to meet specific needs
throughout Canada, Section 111, Field Husbandry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering, discusses trends in methods of investigation and
practices followed relating to soils, fertilizers, agricultural machinery,
cropping, irrigation, pasture, soil surveys, and weed control since 1918.
The article on Forage Crops (Section IV) shows the regional importance
and trends of forage crop production in Canada, as well as the accomplishments in breeding new varieties.
Section V on Horticulture outlines the development of commercial
horticulture in this country since 1918. Trends in horticultural practices and in the breeding of fruit and vegetable varieties are described.
Short accounts are given of the development of greenhouse crops and of
vegetable growing on organic soils in Canada, The remarkable expansion during the last forty years of tobacco production in Canada, particularly of the flue-cured type, is briefly discussed in Section VI, as well
as the successes which have been obtained in breeding new varieties of
C. H. GOULDEN
Department or Agriwultwe, Ottawa, Canada
In this brief section an attempt is made t o evaluate some of the effects of cereal breeding progress on trends of cereal production in Canada. A new variety with improved characteristics becomes immediately
an economic factor in that it may reduce the cost of production o r make
production possible in areas or under conditions otherwise quite unsatisfactory. The story of MARQUIS wheat and its effect on agriculture in
the Prairie Provinces is a case in point. The same is true of the rustresistant wheats in Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan. Early varieties
* Contribution No. 168 from the Cereal Division, Experimental Farms Service,
Canada Department of Agriculture, Ottawa, Canada.
CHANQINQ PATTERN OF AQRONOMP AND HORTICULTURE IN CANADA
of barley have been a contributing factor i n the replacement of wheat
by barley in some areas, particularly in northern Alberta. These examples are pointed out in some detail, and others are dealt with as space
Since wheat is the predominating cereal in Canada, it is obvious that
all factors affecting wheat production must have an indirect effect on the
production of other cereals. The figures i below show the acreages, in
thousands of acres, of cereal crops in Canada in the year 1951.
Flax (for seed)
(spring and winter)
Throughout the period being considered, 1910-1950, wheat has generally
been the most profitable cereal crop. The average gross values of an
acre of wheat expressed as acres of oats, barley, and flaxseed for the
Prairie Provinces are :
showing a consistent margin in favor of wheat production.
The acreage figures for wheat in averages for five-year periods are
given in Table 11. The figures in all columns, except those for Ontario,
are for spring and winter wheat combined. In the other columns the
proportion of winter wheat is so small that the values given can be regarded as representing spring wheat.
The trend in spring wheat in the eastern provinces has been steadily
downward throughout the entire period. In these areas spring wheat
is grown almost entirely for chicken feed or for grist a t local mills. The
competition from western feed grain and the decreasing production of
flour in small mills for local consumption are factors which have contributed to the downward trend.
In the Prairie Provinces there was an almost continuous and rapid
increase in the wheat acreage from 1908 with 5,624,000 acres to 1922
with 22,181,000 acres. In order to understand this increase together
t Crop statistics taken from Handbook of Agricultural Statistics, Part I-Field
Crops, and Quarterly Bulletin of Agricultural Statistics, Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Ottawa, Canada.
R. R. YCKIBBlN
with the corresponding increase in agricultural development all across
the prairies, it is necessary to go farther back in the history of wheat
production. Buller (1919) in Essags on Wheat gives an excellent account of the efforts of the Selkirk settlers to grow wheat on the banks of
the Red River approximately where the city of Winnipeg is now situated.
The first party arrived at the Red River in 1812, and having brought
cereals with them from Great Britain, immediately began preparing the
land for crops. They sowed winter wheat in the fall of 1812 and some
spring wheat, barley, and peas in the spring of 1813. There was great
disappointment when the wheat harvest proved to be a total failure.
From our present knowledge of the climate of Manitoba and the types
of varieties of cereals that the settlers were most likely t o have brought
with them, the results obtained are not surprising. Repeated efforts by
the early settlers to produce wheat from seed from Great Britain were
almost a total failure. Even when the crop appeared to be a success it
was destroyed by storms, locusts, or grasshoppers.
It is noteworthy that the first successful crop of wheat produced by
the Selkirk settlers was in 1820; this crop came from seed that they
imported at great expense and difficulty from Prairie Du Chien in the
state of Wisconsin. It is not known if the wheat imported was a named
variety, but it is most likely that it was brought to the United States by
European settlers. It appears to have been better suited than the English varieties to Manitoba conditions, as Buller states that in spite of
frequent crop failures the Red River settlers did not again lack wheat
for seed until 1868, when the crops were completely destroyed by grasshoppers.
There is no clear record of the source of seed of wheat crops grown
by the Selkirk settlers following the disaster of 1868, but it seems likely
that they obtained further supplies from the United States. It is stated
by Clark (1936) that the first successful crop of RED F I wheat
United States was obtained by a Wisconsin farmer in 1860. This variety
had come to the United States from Ontario. It came to Ontario from
Great Britain but seems to have come originally from the Ukraine.
The wheat being grown in the Prairie Provinces in 1908 was very
largely of the RED FIFE variety, although Dr. William Saunders and Dr.
Charles Saunders of the Experimental Farms Service had been making
prodigious efforts to obtain an earlier high-yielding variety. They had
introduced such early varieties as EARLY RED FIFE,PRELUDE, LADOQA, and
PRESTON. LADOQA was unsatisfactory in quality, and the others had
agronomic defects. From what we now know of weather conditions in
the prairies following 1908 it is quite certain that RED FIFE wheat would
not have supported a rapidly expanding agriculture. It would most
CHANQINQ PATTERN OF AQRONOMY AND HORTICULTURE IN CANADA
certainly in many seasons have succumbed to fall frosts and been severely damaged by stem rust, with the result that farmers would have
been forced into the production of feed grains or varieties of wheat of
The distribution of MARQUIS wheat, which took place in 1909, marked
the beginning of a new era in Canadian wheat production. It was from
a week to ten days earlier than RED FIFE and gave excellent yields. It
spread very rapidly and in a few years was practically the only variety
grown in the Prairie Provinces. It was undoubtedly the desirable characteristics of this variety that made possible the great expansion in
acreage from 1910 to 1921. If the farmers had been restricted to the use
of RED FIFE it is certain that there would have been very little wheat
production outside of the southern areas of the prairies, where the danger from fall frosts is a minimum.
Another factor affecting wheat production in the Prairie Provinces,
and Manitoba and Saskatchewan in particular, was the occurrence of
epidemics of stem rust (Puccinia graminis Pers.) . The first disastrous
outbreak was in 1916, when it was estimated that the damage resulted
in a reduction of 100,000,000 bushels in the wheat crop. I n the period
from 1916 to 1938, Craigie (1945) shows that there were five heavy epidemics, six medium epidemics, and twelve light ones. Calculations made
by Greaney (1936) show that for Manitoba and Saskatchewan the average annual loss between 1925 and 1935 was approximately 35,000,000
During the first heavy epidemics of stem rust it was noted that durum
wheat seemed to be more resistant than the common wheats, and many
farmers in Manitoba switched to the production of durums. F o r this
reason the proportion of the acreage of durums in Manitoba in 1928
reached 56 per cent. The differential effect was due, apparently, to the
occurrence of races of stem rust to which the common wheats were susceptible and the durums resistant. With the introduction of resistant
varieties of both common and durum wheat, the proportion of durums
was reduced and a t the present time the latter occupy only about 10 per
cent of the wheat acreage in Manitoba.
The first rust-resistant common wheat variety distributed was
THATCHER. The distribution took place in 1936, and in about three years
almost the whole of the crop in Manitoba was of this variety. Shortly
after 1936 other rust-resistant varieties appeared, such as RENOWN, APEX,
REQENT, and REDMAN. Table IV shows the percentage of the acreage occupied by these varieties in 1941 and 1951. I n Manitoba the wheat acreage a t present is almost entirely of rwt-resistant varieties. In
Saskatchewan the resistant varieties make up 94 per cent and in Alberta
R. R. MUKIBBIN
88 per cent of the acreage. This reflects not only the additional value
to the farmer of freedom from rust damage but also the improvement in
agronomic characteristics brought about by the plant breeders in these
I n Alberta, for example, damage from stem rust has always been
quite small, and the fact that the farmers have switched from susceptible
varieties such as MARQUIS, RED BOBS, and GARNET, to THATCHER, RESCUE,
REDMAN, and SAUNDERS is a reflection of advantages other than resistance
to rust obtained through the use of these varieties.
For convenient reference Table I11 gives a chronological record of
the distribution of wheat varieties in Canada.
I n Manitoba it is easily proved by comparing yields i n plot tests
where MARQUIS is grown that the average yields have been noticeably
increased by the use of resistant varieties. Actual averages by five-year
periods are also indicative. These are given below for the eight five-year
periods being considered here :
The effect of the rust-resistant varieties is shown i n the last two five-year
periods. Calculations of this sort are of course inconclusive because of
the confounding effect of seasonal conditions. Even i n rust epidemic
years such as 1916, the actual production figures in bushels do not give
a true measure of the loss to the farmers, as most of the wheat produced
is of very low grade.
A recent development in the rust situation is the occurrence of new
races of stem rust to which varieties such as THATCHER and REDMAN are
susceptible. Race 15B, which is of this type, occurred over a considerable area in the Prairie Provinces in 1951 and was in epidemic proportions in 1952, although it came too late to cause noticeable damage to
common wheats. The durum varieties being grown are more susceptible
to this race than are the common wheats, and some late crops in Manitoba were severely damaged. It is of interest that this situation is directly the reverse of that when heavy rust epidemics first began to occur,
The indications at the present time are that durum wheats will decrease
rapidly until a variety can be produced that is resistant to race 15B.
Plant breeders began working on the development of more resistant
CHANQING PATTERN OF AGRONOMY AND HORTICULTURE
varieties as soon as race 15B was discovered in 1938, and a s a result
several resistant strains of common wheat have been produced which are
now being tested and increased for distribution. It is expected that
they will be ready for production on a commercial scale in time to prevent the new races of stem rust from having any definite effect on trends
in wheat production.
As already pointed out, the distribution of MARQUIS wheat made wheat
production possible over a much greater area in the Prairie Provinces.
The introduction of still earlier wheats, such as RED BOBS, GARNET, and
SAUNDERS, extended successful wheat production farther north. In the
Peace River area of Alberta there is definite need for an early variety
and also in the area around Edmonton and extending southward along
the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. GARNEW and RED BOBS filled the
Acreages of Wheat in the Chief Producing Areas of Canada by 5-Year Periods
Data in Thousands of Acres
Chronological Record of the Distribution of Spring Wheat Varieties in Canada
Before IBISHOP, EARLY RED FIFE, HURON, MARQUIS, PWTJDE, FTONEEdL,
j RED FIFE
1920-24 ROTA, QUALITY, RENFRICW
1925-29 CERES, OAR-NWl', RED BOBS, REWARD
1935-39 APEX, QBNUS, OOILONATION, REGENT, RENOWN, THATOHEE
1945-49 OAOOA.DE, FSDMILN, RE6OUE, SAUNDERS
R. R. YUKIBBIN
need for a number of years, but they are now being replaced by THATCHER
and SAUNDERS. The replacement is due in part to the degrading of RED
BOBS and GARNET because of deficiencies in quality for making bread.
Distribution of Wheat Varieties in Percentage of the Total Acreage for the
Prairie Provinces 1941 and 1951
LEMHI (soft white)
"Data in Tablea 111, VI, IX, and XII, by Uourtesy of North-west Line Elevators, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Table V gives the average acreages of oats in Canada in the chief
producing areas, by five-year periods, from 1910 to 1949. The trend
in eastern Canada shows rather small changes in the Maritimes and Quebec, but there is a fairly definite downward trend in Ontario. This trend
in Ontario is only partially made up by a corresponding increase in
mixed grains. I n the Prairie Provinces there has been a considerable
increase, but most of this increase took place in the period from 1910
It does not seem possible to come to any definite conclusions with
respect to changes in the oat acreage in the Prairie Provinces being due
to any specific factors. In the period 1910-1920 there was of course a
general increase in cereal production. If the five-year period 1910-1914
is compared with the period 1920-1924, wheat acreage increased 116 per
PATTERN OF AGRONOMY AND HORTICULTURE IN CANADA
cent and oat acreage 89 per cent. The determining factors in furthering
cereal production were probably those factors affecting wheat; hence,
oats increased correspondingly because of the increased demand for feed
and because in many areas it fitted in well as a second crop in the rotation.
It is of some interest to examine the ratio of returns per acre for
wheat and oats in the Prairie Provinces over the years for which data
are available. A detailed analysis would be required to bring out any
definite trends. We observe, however, from the values given in Table V,
that the period 1925-1929 represents a reduction in comparison with the
two previous five-year periods, and a t the same time that there is a corresponding increase in the wheat : oats ratio which may have had an effect in causing farmers to switch oat acreage to wheat or barley.
There does not seem to have been any pronounced effect of new and
improved varieties on the acreage of oats. Table V I shows the important
varieties of oats grown in Canada since 1910 and the date of their distribution. It is of interest to study this table in relation to the data of
Table VII, giving the percentage distribution of oat varieties in 1951.
The original oat acreage consisted almost entirely of BANNER and VICTORY.
These varieties were almost the only ones grown in the period from 1910
to 1936. A few early varieties such as 60 DAY and KHERSON were tried
by farmers but generally discarded on account of low yields and low
weight per bushel. The varieties LEGACY and CARTIER were of little importance in this period, the former being adapted in only a small area,
and the latter having a distribution almost entirely confined to Quebec.
I n 1936, VANGUARD, the first variety having resistance to stem rust, made
its appearance and was followed by several other resistant varieties in
the years from then on to the present. The rust-resistant varieties in
Acreage of Oats in the Chief Producing Areas of Canada by 5-Year Periods, and
Wheat: Oats Returns per Acre Ratio. Data in Thousands of Acres
Provinces Columbia Canada returns
R. R. MCKIBBIN
Table VI are shown in italics. These varieties now dominate the acreage
of the eastern Provinces and Manitoba and the eastern half of Saskatchewan, and have undoubtedly made very important contributions to average yields. The increases in yield owing to the rust-resistant varieties
can be estimated by comparing yields in test plots. Estimates made in
this way demonstrate that the increases have been appreciable. They
do not show in average production figures, because these figures would
undoubtedly have been reduced if the rust-resistant varieties had not
Chronological Record of the Distribution of Oat Tarieties in Canada to 1950
Before BANNER, VIOTORY,
1945-49 Abegweit, BAXBU,
Clhton, li.ortune, G a ~ ry, LARAIN,
Distribution of Oat Varieties in Percentage of Total Acreage in the Prairie