Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Odds and Ends of Information about Saskatchewan

 I didn't have many charts and stuff to post about Saskatchewan so I had to set out to find some. My apologies if some of the writing is too small to read. I know, it makes me crazy too.

Map of location in Canada and main highways and communities

Saskatchewan is roughly 500 to 1000 metres above sea level

Saskatchewan settlers initially tended to clump together by ethnic group

The Grand Trunk Pacific (later the CNR) by 1908 was providing competition to the CPR. The main line from Winnipeg to Edmonton, through Saskatoon was unique in that the designated stations were all named in alphabetical with some exceptions. Coblenz (Cavell from 1915) was my home town.

Regina temperatures and precipitation are typical for the province. Hot in summer, cold and dry in winter. Average provincial precipitation ranges from 350 to 450 mm, mostly in May through August which makes dryland farming of spring crops the best alternative.

Wheat was king until the early 2000s when Canola production increased sharply and gross revenue surpassed wheat. Barley production, mainly for feed, averaged 3 million t (between 2 and 4 million t)

Durum wheat is a major crop in Saskatchewan, suiting the dryer areas. The 30 year average for wheat not durum was 9.2 million t and for durum 3.9 million t. It gets shipped around the world and some makes its way back to our grocery stores as pasta where it says made in Italy.

I used this before showing the long term decline in wheat price in real dollars

Any time I can talk about cows, I will. The hump in the mid 2000s was a result of finding Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease(CJD) in Canadian cattle in 2003 and all exports instantly shut off. We eventually ate some and the borders reopened, so we are now down to around a million cows which is more or less the long term average for Saskatchewan

Some farms still have a few cows but economics drives increased herd size, mainly the cost of winter feed

Roughly 60% of farms reporting beef cows have 20% of the provincial cow herd, averaging 30 cows per farm. 40% of the farms reporting beef cows account for 80% of the provincial cow herd and average 188 cows per farm


  1. My favourite saying about this prairie province is: "Saskatchewan -- Hard to Spell, Easy to Draw." I've never lived in SK but have spent a fair bit of time there in my life, visiting relatives in Regina and surrounding area.

  2. Debra, that pretty much sums it up, though getting the correction lines right on the MB border is no easy task. I didn't talk about correction lines. That is another blog post.

  3. Oh goody, correction lines, I can hardly wait.
    I think I crossed Saskatchewan on the train once, but so long ago I don't know if it was CN or CP, all I remember is snow.

  4. It would be interesting to look at a census from a few decades ago for comparison. Are the smaller cattle producers being taken over by the 'big boys'?

  5. Shammickite, correction lines next week.

    Diane, I likely have them somewhere in Davy Jones' File System, but yes, the number of smaller beef herds has decreased dramatically and the number of large herds continues to increase. Older farmers get tired and sell off the herd (My dad sold his 35 cows in 1981, the year he turned 60). Cost of equipment and labour per cow is high for small herds and a year of bad calf prices shakes off quite a few more herds. Farm size continues to grow and with it the ability to run more cattle. The big herds are not putting the small herds out of business like a WalMart putting Mom and Pop stores out of business.


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