OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA — Planted area for genetically engineered (GE) crops in Canada in 2018 decreased by 2% from the previous year, due primarily to lower soybean area in the prairie provinces, according to a Dec. 12 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The report noted that in 2018 Canada planted approximately 12.2 million hectares of GE crops, mainly canola, soybeans, corn, sugar beets and alfalfa.

“Much of the soybean reductions were in the prairie provinces, where farmers increased wheat planted area in anticipation of much lower soybean yields from dry planting conditions and from expected moisture deficiency through the growing season,” the USDA said.

In marketing year 2018-19, soybean planted area grew 9% in Ontario while dropping 6% in Manitoba and 52% in Saskatchewan. Overall, soybean planted area decreased by 13%.

The USDA noted that researchers in Ontario are developing high linoleic soybean varieties to fill the current deficit in linoleic oils. Having achieved desired levels of linoleic acid, researchers have begun to focus on improved yields that would make these high linoleic soybean varieties commercially viable.

“Industry sources have expressed some frustration with sluggish soybean growth in demand from the food industry, given the level of investment to develop high-oleic soybeans,” the USDA said. “Greater demand from the food industry from high oleic oils would great a price signal that may incentivize more production and more crushing in Canada.”