Every year, over the course of a typical crop cycle (from spring to late fall), Statistics Canada provides data on field crops. The Field Crop Reporting Series is a source of reliable and timely information for the agriculture industry—providing an overview of field crops and insight into the farming economy in Canada.
The results help track major grain production nationally and provincially, indicate the availability of crops, provide annual trend information by crop and small area regions and assist farmers in their planning.
Field crop variables
The field crop surveys track four key variables:
- The areas seeded and harvested
- The yields obtained
- The production levels attained
- The on-farm stocks levels at precise times during the crop year.
The survey cycle
Statistics Canada's field crop surveys are conducted five times a year, from early spring to the end of harvest season. This allows the agency to provide accurate crop data at key times throughout the year.
Each of the five surveys provides an important reading of the field crop situation at key times.
Gathering field crop data
The five surveys in the Field Crop Reporting Series are:
- March field crop survey: Farmers provide preliminary area estimates of the type of crop and the area that, at the time of the interview (most of the month of March), they intend to seed. These intentions are recorded before seeding when there is often still snow on the ground. This information is important because Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada use this data to set up their preliminary grain estimates for the summer farm income forecast.
- June field crop survey: Farmers provide the final area estimates that, at the time of the interview (mid-May to mid-June), they have actually seeded. If important climatic events occur between the March and June surveys, estimates can differ substantially, as seen during the 2011 spring floods in Manitoba, where the March expected number of unseeded acres had more than tripled at June survey release.
- July field crop survey: Farmers provide the preliminary yield and production estimatesFootnote 1 that, at the time of the interview (the last three weeks of July), they expect to obtain. These estimates are based on the farmers' best assessments given the growth stage of the crops they see in their fields. Many factors, including droughts, floods and diseases, can have a large impact on the final estimates, which come in after harvests are completed in the fall.
- November field crop survey: Farmers provide the final yield and production estimates that, at the time of the interview (mid-October to mid-November), they actually obtained.
- December field crop survey: Farmers provide the first reading of on-farm stock levels after the preceding fall harvests are completed. The second and third readings are obtained from the March and July field crop surveys the following year.
Check out our easy-to-print chart, Crop Report Survey at a Glance, which provides an overview of our survey cycle.
On-farm stock levels
On-farm stock levels, which measure the quantities of grain still in storage, are an important component of the field crop surveys. The on-farm stock levels are estimated three times a year. This information is a key element in the supply and disposition analysis, which ensures that the volume of grain produced or imported in a given crop year is equal to the volume of the same grains that made their way to the grain market. The estimates are referenced at precise dates and occur on:
- December 31 (December field crop survey)
- March 31 (March field crop survey)
- July 31 (July field crop survey).
Reliable crop statistics
Statistics Canada prides itself on providing reliable statistics for the agriculture industry. In 2017, the five major crops seeded were wheat, canola, barley, lentils and corn for grain. In comparing data from the March survey with the June data, the variation for all crops is typically 5% or less, unless extreme weather conditions occur. Crop data are provided in a timely manner, as soon as they are validated and analyzed. This is an important step to ensure farmers' answers are reflected properly and the data are reliable and accurate.
The survey data are obtained entirely from farmers. Accurate and timely statistical information could not be produced without their continued co-operation and goodwill.