What Stats Canada predicts for fruit and vegetables

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Fruit and vegetable sales were up by 1.3% to $2.5 billion in 2019, mainly due to a 3.0% increase in the value of vegetables. The farm-gate value of vegetables grown in Canada rose for the ninth consecutive year. In contrast, the farm-gate value of fruits edged down 0.5%.

Vegetable and fruit yields have trended upwards over the past decade. In 2019, total vegetable yields were up by 1.5% from a year earlier and 6.0% above the 10-year average. While fruit yields were down by 1.0% over the previous year, they remained 13.1% above the 10-year average.

The total farm-gate value of field vegetables rose 3.0% to $1.3 billion in 2019, due to higher yields and prices.

Despite the cold spring in Eastern Canada, asparagus production was up by 14.2% to 10.2 million kilograms. In Ontario, Canada’s largest asparagus-producing province, production increased 13.3% to its highest level on record. Nevertheless, asparagus accounted for 3.4% of the total value of vegetables in 2019, well below the value of carrots (10.3%), dry onions (8.5%), tomatoes (8.4%), total cabbage (6.8%) and total lettuce (6.3%).

Farm-gate prices were up for celery (+13.2%), regular radishes (+12.8%), rutabagas and turnips (+10.8%) and parsnips (+10.3%). Farmers also received better prices for watermelon (+7.1%), tomatoes (+6.2%), cauliflower (+5.4%) and broccoli (+5.3%).

Farmers reported higher yields for beets (+15.7%), beans (+7.6%), peppers (+6.7%) and asparagus (+6.4%) in 2019. Conversely, yields were down for parsnips (-7.3%) and rutabagas and turnips (-5.0%), likely attributable to inclement weather in October.

The total farm-gate value of fruit edged down 0.5% to $1.2 billion in 2019, mainly due to a 1.8% decline in the quantities sold. A 1.6% increase in prices partially offset the decrease.

Farm-gate values were down for sweet cherries (-11.5%) and raspberries (-9.4%), while cranberry (-5.3%), apple (-3.7%) and peach (-2.4%) farmers also reported declines. These declines were attributable to lower yields and less harvested areas.

Apples (20.4%) accounted for just over one-fifth of the total value of fruit in 2019, followed by vinifera grapes (16.7%), high bush blueberries (15.5%), cranberries (11.5%) and strawberries (10.5%).

In British Columbia, production (-41.2%) and farm-gate value (-37.9%) of cranberries fell sharply in 2019, with farmers attributing the decline to a milder winter during which plants never entered full dormancy. Conversely, cranberry farmers in Quebec reported higher production (+15.8%) and farm-gate values (+13.3%).

The production of apples, strawberries, sweet cherries, nectarines, peaches, raspberries, and Saskatoon berries were all down from a year earlier. Weather conditions were a challenge for fruit producers across the country, marked by a shorter spring and fall season, a frigid winter in Western Canada and the impact of Hurricane Dorian in Nova Scotia.

In contrast, high bush blueberry (+20.8%) and sour cherry (+20.3%) production rose by one-fifth, while vinifera grape production increased 4.0%. Winemakers in British Columbia and Ontario were expecting 2019 to produce a good vintage because of favourable grape growing conditions.