Agriculture is the economic foundation of the Northeast with Saskatchewan containing 41 percent of Canada’s arable land.  Northeast Saskatchewan has a total cropped area of 3.5 million acres and some of the most fertile and productive soils in the province.  Northeast Saskatchewan shows strong results in the production of oilseeds, cereals, feed grains, and forage crops.   

The number of people living in rural municipalities, as well as the percentage of population continues to decrease in the province as well as the region.  The trend for farms consisting of more acres, larger equipment, less reliance on manual labour and increasing use of technology continues.

The price of farmland in the region ranges from very low to moderate in price, depending on the land type and geographic location. The most profitable land per acre, as reported by Sask. Trends Monitor is around the Carrot River, Nipawin, Arborfield, Tisdale and Melfort areas.  The bright spot continues to be the increasing (yet somewhat volatile) commodity prices.  

The region had surplus topsoil moisture the fall of 2010, and the 2011 spring was fairly wet. Despite this, the northern regions were consistently ahead of the rest of the province in seeding progress because there was very little rainfall. By May 23, 62 per cent of the crop had been seeded. A significant amount of rain fell during the first week of May and the next substantial rain (10 to 20 mm) came the first week in June. The region had adequate rain throughout July and August. By the time harvest started, the weather had turned hot and dry, allowing many producers to put the grain in the bin in good shape with average to above-average yields. The regional average crop yields are as follows: winter wheat 42 bu/ac; spring wheat 41 bu/ac; oats 89 bu/ac; barley 63 bu/ac; fall rye 33 bu/ac; flax 23 bu/ac; canola 33 bu/ac; peas 36 bu/ac; and canaryseed 1,300 lb./ac.

Crop reporters in the region have estimated a 19-per-cent decrease in the acres seeded to winter wheat over last year. Most of the region’s farmland was seeded to spring crops, unlike the previous year when some acres that were too wet to seed in the spring were seeded to fall cereals.

Average hay yields for the region are as follows (in tons per acre): alfalfa 2.1; brome/alfalfa 1.5; other tame hay 1.3; native 1.6 and green feed 2.4. Hay quality is generally good, although quality has been reduced in some areas due to the July rains. All livestock producers are reporting adequate to surplus hay, greenfeed and straw supplies for the 2011 winter.

The northeast region has generally good subsoil recharge, although there are areas of dry soils with little recharge going into winter.  With normal winter snowfall and spring rains, this region should be in good condition for 2012 spring seeding.

Prices in the livestock industry are increasing as the beef economic cycle is in the recovery phase.  The Northeast Region is especially active in honey production, particularly in the areas around Tisdale and Nipawin.  The support of local farmers’ markets due to their economic impact on both the economy and agriculture industry in the region reinforces the trend for consumers to buy more locally grown food.  The Northeast Local Food Producers Inc. has released its 2011 Guide to Local Food Producers.  This guide lists the local producers as well as the products available from each producer.

There are a large number of Inland Grain Terminals in Northeast Saskatchewan. Tisdale is often considered to be the Agricultural Hub of the Northeast, having five Inland Grain Terminals surrounding it. There has been at least two developments in the region to answer difficulties due to the centralization of grain handling: producer car loading sites consisting of a rail siding in which grain can be loaded by the producer into rail cars exist in Aylsham, Brooksby, Clemenceau, Hudson Bay, Melfort, Mistatim, Ridgedale and Valparaiso; and shoreline railroads have been in operation since 2008 located between Nipawin and Choiceland as well as between Crooked River and Arborfield.  There is a large amount of support for the use of the Churchill Transportation Corridor from producers in the region.