Quinoa crops flourish so far across Prairies


CNS Canada — The Canadian Prairies may seem an unlikely place for quinoa to flourish, but the South American grain is making remarkable gains up north.

There is only one company, Northern Quinoa Corp., growing and producing quinoa in Canada. For over 20 years they’ve grown and produced small acreages, but the rising popularity of the so-called superfood is changing that.

“We have a total of 15,500 acres between (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba),” said Colin Dutcheshen of Northern Quinoa. “That’s increased threefold; last year we had only around 5,100 acres.”

Growers this year span from Peace River, Alta. to Fisher Branch, Man., and for the most part, quinoa crops are looking really good so far, Dutcheshen said.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba, he said, have been “getting a lot of wet weather right now… but it hasn’t been excessive for the most part and with that, quinoa is coming along nicely.

“It doesn’t particularly like overly wet, which it hasn’t been, and it’s not getting extra hot, which is a benefit right now because it’s going into its flowering stage.”

There are 103 producers growing quinoa this year, Dutcheshen said. Most crops are in the northern parts of the provinces and stick toward the east, as quinoa tends to do better on the eastern side.

Because it’s a fairly new crop on the Prairies, quinoa isn’t pressured by disease, he said.

“Disease won’t be a really big problem. If we get excessive rains that could be an issue, at the moment hail is our biggest concern,” he said. “We’re advising our growers to insure their crops for hail because that is something that can happen anytime.”

Northern Quinoa does its business under production contracts with farmers, but due to the increase in acreage, prices have seen an increase as well, Dutcheshen said.

“We offer 70 cents per pound on production, which is up from last year’s 60 cents per pound.”

— Erin DeBooy writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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