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Is the shine for soybeans in Western Canada starting to wear off? It looks that way in 2019.

The phenomenal growth of soybeans in Western Canada has halted. According to Stats Canada, acres grew from 0.4 million in 2009 to a high of 3.1 million in 2017. Now, for the second year in a row, western farmers are intending to cut back their soybeans; for 2019, it is projected to be 1.8 million acres (Stats Canada, Table 32-10-0359-01). What is contributing to this drop in acres?

During the winter of 2019, Stratus interviewed 299 soybean growers in Western Canada in order to get their views on soybean seed brands.  Their brand experiences coupled with known environmental conditions can shed some light on the further decrease in acres. 

Over the last three years, satisfaction with the performance of soybean seed brands has dropped by half: from 43% very satisfied in 2016 to only 21% in 2018.

What does this decrease in performance satisfaction mean for brands long term?  Two metrics provide some insight into this question: brand commitment and willingness to recommend. 

Farmers indicated that their commitment to use the soybean seed brands they are using over the next two to three years is decreasing.  In fact, it has been trending lower over the past three years but at a slower pace compared to performance satisfaction.

Similarly, the willingness of farmers to recommend the seed brands they use to another farmer also decresased over the same three year period.  In 2016, 50% of farmers were brand promoters, that is, they would willingly recommend their seed brand(s) to a fellow farmer.  However, by 2018, the number of promoters had dropped to 30%.

So what does this mean?

Brand experience is an indication of the contentment Western Canadian farmers have with their soybeans.  Although not a direct correlation, the decreases in soybean performance satisfaction, brand commitment, and willingness to recommend coincide with two, very dry years.  Practical, on-farm experience with soybeans is showing the potential limitations of the crop, yet, they do have a fit in Western Canada.  Growers will have to continue to carefully weigh their options and determine the best combination of crops for their farm.

For more information about “Soybean Seed Focus360 – Western Canada”, contact:

Michael Reidy