Canadian Canary Seed
Singing for supper
There's just something cheerful about birds: a canary trilling in a sunny bay window, a budgerigar clowning on its perch, an outdoor feeder with a throng of finches chattering like a family reunion. Having birds around makes us feel good, which is why people everywhere love to keep them as pets or watch them in the wild.
It's also why the world needs huge amounts of canary seed - more than 250,000 tonnes are produced every year, almost all of which goes to nourish the myriads of birds that provide human beings with so much pleasure. When used in feed, it's usually combined with seeds such as millet, sunflower, niger, buckwheat and flax to suit the nutritional needs and palates of particular species of birds.
Both wild and tame birds eat better because of Canada, which is the world's biggest producer and exporter of canary seed. As a crop, canary is a tall grass that prefers long, warm days and cool nights, making it perfectly suited to the climate of the Canadian prairies; about 90 percent of Canada's canary seed is grown in Saskatchewan, with the balance coming from Manitoba and Alberta. We normally harvest it in September and early October, and store it carefully to ensure that it retains its high quality.
A better birdseed
Traditionally, Canada has produced the Keet and Elias varieties of canary seed. They are unpleasant for producers, packagers and processors to handle because they have tiny hairs that break away from the seeds and cause severe itching. To solve this problem, Canadian researchers have developed a new, hairless variety called Canario™, which has been commercially produced since 1997.
Canario™ is expected to replace traditional canary seed over the next few years, because it maintains the high protein content of the traditional varieties but is less uncomfortable to handle. Canario™ also increases the volume of seed per shipping container by 12 percent, and eliminates the oiling and processing steps that are needed with less advanced varieties.
For birdseed processors and packagers, this makes Canario™ the canary seed of choice, especially because it's subject to strict quality standards based on those used for commercially pedigreed Canadian seeds. Canario™ must be 97 percent hairless in order to bear the Canario™ trademark, which is the processor's guarantee of purity.
Experience the Canadian difference
If birds could talk, they'd ask for Canadian canary seed. For further information on Canada's canary seed industry, please visit:
- Agri-Food Trade Service
- Canadian Special Crops Association
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