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The Shift

Although wheat once dominated the Prairies, wheat is no longer the main crop grown on the Prairies for several reasons. After the crash of wheat prices in the 1930s, farmers wanted the security of being able to grow another crop besides wheat. However, in the 1930s, there weren’t many crops that made as much money and grew as well on the Western Prairies, so some farmers included livestock and dairy production into their farming practice.

When World War Two started, there was a huge increase in demand for food for the war effort. Farmers were encouraged to focus on raising livestock such as cattle, pigs, or dairy cows to provide meat and dairy products to accompany the wheat being grown.

In the 1930s, farmers began to add livestock and dairy production to their farms.

When two scientists, B. Stefansson and R. Downey, created a new plant called canola in the 1970s, Saskatchewan farmers were quick to adopt it onto their farms. By removing the bad traits of its ancestor that made it inedible, the scientists made canola. Canola is very profitable for farmers and grows well here on the Prairies. Farmers only have a certain amount of land, so the more fields of canola a farmer grows, the fewer fields the farmer will have left for wheat.

Canola became popular as another crop option that would grow on the Prairies.

More recently, it was proven that farmers could successfully grow lentils and other legumes such as peas in Saskatchewan! Farmers quickly added these crops into their rotation too because they add nutrients back into the soil and there is a demand for them from countries all over the world. 

Farmers started growing legumes such as lentils.

With a large selection of profitable crops that grow well on the Prairies, farmers often grow several different crops, which has reduced the amount of wheat grown. If you look at a picture of Saskatchewan from above you can see the patchwork of different fields covering our province today.

An illustrated bird stands on a branch eating haskap berries.

An aerial view of Saskatchewan shows the variety of crops that are now grown across the province.