Soybean School: How climate could impact Canadian production in 2030 and beyond


How might a changing climate affect soybean production across Canada?

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist Ward Smith shares how he and his colleagues have been studying agroecosystem models to predict the impact changing climates have on soybean production.

During the virtual Northern Soybean Summit hosted by last month by Soy Canada, Smith indicated that many Canadian growers can expect to see manageable heat, sufficient moisture and a longer growing season heading into 2030 and beyond.

Citing ongoing work with colleagues Budong Qian, Yong Min Kim, Qi Jing, Brian Grant, Guillaume Jego, Scott Duguid, Ken Hester and Alison Nelson, Smith notes that a warming climate should allow soybean production to expand in Western Canada in the black and some of the dark grey Chernozem soils. “It’s quite likely that acreage could expand substantially in these areas,” says Smith, as these now tend to see more rainfall and projections indicate a similar trend in the future. He adds that research estimates southern Prairie regions will continue to experience major water stress.

The research also predicts increases in crop heat units (CHUs) will promote higher yields and frost-free periods could be extended by 1.5 weeks by 2030. CHUs could increase by 500 by 2030 and up to 800 by 2050. These numbers have significant implications for many growing areas across the country, especially when it comes to planting and maturity dates in Western Canada.

Smith notes that Humbolt, SK, for example, could see current late May planting dates move to mid May by 2030 and early May by 2050. A similar crop maturity trend would follow with current mid-to-late September soybean maturity moving to late August by 2030 and mid August by 2030.

Similar trends may also make soybean acre expansion possible in some northern regions of Ontario and Quebec.

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