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Canary Seed

Canary Seed Overview

Canary seed is a cereal grain crop. There are two kinds of canary seed: itchy and itchless. The itchy type has little hairs that make the skin itchy, which makes it difficult during harvest. The itchless type was developed at the Crop Development Centre in Saskatoon and it does not have the hairs.

Barley, oats, wheat, and canary seed are all cereal crops that are grown in Saskatchewan.

The countries that grow a lot of canary seed are Canada, Hungary, and Argentina. Saskatchewan produces most of the canary seed grown in Canada, and it is mainly grown near Kindersley, Regina, and Melfort.


A container of canary seed is shown.

Saskatchewan produces 90% of Canada’s canary seed.

Industry Overview

In Saskatchewan, there are typically 121,400 hectares (300,000 acres) of canary seed seeded with an average yield of 0.8 – 1.55 tonnes per hectare (13 – 23 bushels per acre).

Saskatchewan farmers produce over 90% of the Canadian canary seed production. These Saskatchewan canary seed farmers are also the world’s leading producers and exporters of canary seed! Countries that import canary seed include Mexico, Belgium, Brazil, Spain, the United States, and Columbia. The grain is taken from elevators on trains and put onto ships to transport to these international countries that buy Canadian grain.

An illustrated green canary seed crop has blue skies above it.

Saskatchewan canary seed farmers produce 90% of Canada’s canary seed!

The canary seed that stays in Canada will be transported to an elevator where the canary seed is cleaned, stored, and shipped. Some canary seed is taken to a processing facility to be processed and packaged as a variety of products. Canary seeds can be made into bird feed, cosmetics, cooking oil, or flour. These products are transported to retail stores and sold to customers.

An illustrated auger is moving grain from a grain bin into a trailer being pulled by a semi-truck.

Canary seed farmers transport the canary seed to processing facilities in semi-trucks.

History of Canary Seed

The canary seed is thought to have originated in the Canary Islands. In the past, it was used just for bird seed, but it now can be used in human food.

A small bird is eating seeds out of a person's hand.

Canary Seed can be used to make products such as bird feed.

Growing Canary Seed

Canary seed is a cool season crop that likes warm days and cool nights. The crop matures roughly in 105 days. The roots of the plant are shallow, so they do not like dry areas. During the summer, the crop may be sprayed for weeds, insects, and diseases as needed.


This green, unripe crop of canary seed is not ready to harvest yet.

This canary crop is ready to harvest.

Canary seed is able to be straight cut by the combine (without swathing) because the seeds will stay in the plant and will not fall to the ground. The straw is sometimes difficult to put through the combine. During harvest, canary seed is very itchy and uncomfortable to be around.

The canary seed straw can be itchy and difficult to go through the combine.

Canary Seed Nutrition

Canary seed was previously just grown for feed for caged and wild birds. It is now used in human food because of its starch, protein, and oil contents.

Canary seed is a nutritious choice for our bodies.

Canary Seed Products

There are a variety of products that use canary seed as an ingredient.