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Statistical Overview of the Canadian Greenhouse Vegetable Industry, 2018

Statistical Overview of the Canadian Greenhouse Vegetable Industry, 2018 (PDF version, 1,058 KB)

Overview

The Canadian greenhouse vegetable sector is the largest and fastest growing segment of Canadian horticulture. Greenhouse farming produces agricultural products in self-contained ‘controlled environments’ with systems supplying heat, water and nutrients, and often employing artificial lighting (in addition to sunlight) to nourish the plants. This method of farming requires investment in infrastructure and a strong understanding of the technology. In the early 1990s, Canada emerged as the largest producer of greenhouse products in North America. The United States and Mexico later became important greenhouse producers as well.

Canada’s greenhouse industry produces tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, green beans, eggplants and various herbs and microgreen vegetables. Of these commodities, tomatoes, cucumber and peppers are the main greenhouse vegetable crops grown in Canada.

In 2018, there were a total of 866 commercial greenhouse vegetable operations with 17.5 million square metres of production area which produced over 660,535 metric tonnes of vegetables. There has been a steady increase in greenhouse vegetable production in Canada and it is anticipated that acreages in greenhouse vegetable production will continue the multi-decade growth trend. Ontario continued to lead the greenhouse vegetable sector in 2018, representing 68% of the total production in Canada, followed by British Columbia and Quebec with 18% and 6%, respectively.

Total sales of greenhouse fruit and vegetables rose 5% to reach $1.5 billion in 2018 - continuing the annual increases that began in 2013. Greenhouse cucumbers continued to show strong sales and production numbers for 2018. National cucumber sales rose 13% to $449 million. The export market offered some opportunities, with exports of greenhouse cucumbers and gherkins up 16% in 2018. Tomatoes accounted for 38% of the total greenhouse vegetable sales, followed by cucumbers  and peppers, which accounted for 30% and 28%, respectively.

Canadian greenhouse vegetable farms use both seasonal and permanent employees. Seasonal employees are employees who work less than eight months during the year, while permanent employees work more than eight months during the year. The total number of employees of specialized greenhouse operations has been relatively stable over the past five years. In 2018, 12,425 people were employed in the greenhouse vegetable sector: 7,096 permanent employees and 5,329 seasonal employees. Ontario accounted for 65% of the total number of greenhouse operation employees in Canada.

The value of greenhouse vegetable exports rose 4% from 2017 to reach over $1.0 billion in 2018, exceeding the $1-billion milestone for the first time. The value of greenhouse vegetable exports is the highest of all fresh produce (fruits, greenhouse vegetables, field vegetables and potatoes) in Canada, accounting for 42% of all fresh produce exports. Greenhouse tomatoes accounted for 37% of the total value of exports, followed by greenhouse peppers with 35%. The United States has been Canada’s main export destination for greenhouse vegetables for the past five years. In 2018, the value of exports to the United States accounted for 99% of all Canadian greenhouse vegetable exports.

In 2018, Canada imported $333 million worth of greenhouse vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce). The top two greenhouse vegetable import sources were Mexico, accounting for 86% and the United States, accounting for 10%. In terms of value, tomatoes (45%) are the largest imported commodity, followed by peppers (42%) and cucumbers (13%).

1. Production

1.1. Number of greenhouse vegetable operations1 by province

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Atlantic provinces2 52 54 52 52 51
Quebec 240 242 247 250 238
Ontario 310 315 323 330 325
Prairie provinces2 95 100 107 101 102
British Columbia 140 150 160 154 150
Canada 837 861 894 889 866

Notes:

1. Number of operations represents the number of specialized greenhouse vegetable and fruit operations and includes all other types of enclosed protection used for growing plants, such as rigid insulation, mine shafts, barns and shelters. Mixed operations (vegetables, flowers and plants) are excluded.

2. Due to confidentiality reasons, provincial breakdowns for Atlantic and Prairie provinces are not shown.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0019-01 Estimates of specialized greenhouse operations, greenhouse area, and months of operation

1.2. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province (square metres)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Newfoundland and Labrador 3,235 5,132 647 5,900 6,502
Prince Edward Island 1,398 x x 13,531 14,564
Nova Scotia 67,577 77,992 x 83,556 83,535
New Brunswick x 5,042 121 4,086 5,677
Quebec 890,937 951,534 915,475 1,145,549 1,228,400
Ontario 9,648,346 10,061,143 10,972,697 11,670,213 12,195,071
Manitoba 835 5,245 496 6,955 9,180
Saskatchewan 12,978 14,139 2,003 15,954 17,765
Alberta 530,301 544,222 547,626 670,984 744,667
British Columbia 3,014,962 2,881,096 3,088,435 3,222,661 3,118,687
Canada1 14,216,767 14,592,933 15,928,094 16,878,194 17,438,325

Notes:

1. Totals may not add up as some data was suppressed to meet confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

x:  Too unreliable to be published or suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

1.3. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province – percent share, 2018

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Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province – percent share

  • Ontario: 70%
  • British Columbia: 18%
  • Quebec: 7%
  • Others: 5%

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

1.4. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by commodity (square metres)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Tomatoes 5,540,993 5,513,837 5,990,278 6,356,198 6,598,074
Peppers 4,951,041 4,940,683 5,385,939 5,625,383 5,608,594
Cucumbers 3,544,039 3,739,159 4,005,746 4,321,832 4,592,058
Lettuce 180,694 187,343 174,696 209,183 199,652
Other fruits or vegetables .. 211,911 194,393 85,214 131,831
Eggplants .. .. 90,123 109,631 110,482
Fine herbs .. .. 26,922 90,429 71,076
Microgreens and shoots .. .. .. 16,773 69,479
Chinese vegetables 55,471 48,740 43,396
Beans (green and wax) .. .. 4,526 6,630 6,998
Sprouts .. .. .. 8,181 6,685
Total 14,216,767 14,592,933 15,928,094 16,878,194 17,438,325

Note:

.. : Not available for a specific reference period.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table  32-10-0456-01  Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

1.5. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by commodity – percent share, 2018

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Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by commodity – percent share

  • Tomatoes: 38%
  • Peppers: 32%
  • Cucumbers: 26%
  • Others: 4%

Source: Statistics Canada. Table  32-10-0456-01  Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

1.6. Greenhouse vegetable production by province (metric tonnes)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Newfoundland and Labrador 25 10 3 8 14
Prince Edward Island 48 -   -   2 448
Nova Scotia 2,670 3,090 1,248 2,914 2,902
New Brunswick 24 29 1 -   51
Quebec 24,030 6,110 27,938 38,772 40,741
Ontario 420,341 420,081 424,451 438,680 452,009
Manitoba 24 152 3 186 207
Saskatchewan 164 189 22 224 209
Alberta 22,433 22,195 23,150 33,170 40,790
British Columbia 124,256 114,652 90,881 120,864 121,686
Canada2 596,251 587,825 604,990 636,723 660,535

Notes:

1. Does not include lettuce between 2012 and 2015.

2. Totals may not add up as some data was suppressed to meet confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

- : Not available or too unreliable to be published.

Source:  Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

1.7. Greenhouse vegetable production by province – percent share, 2018

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Greenhouse vegetable production by province – percent share

  • Ontario: 69%
  • British Columbia: 18%
  • Alberta: 6%
  • Quebec: 6%
  • Others: 1%

Source:  Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

1.8. Greenhouse vegetable production by commodity (metric tonnes)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Tomatoes 280,332 261,677 271,006 279,494 279,494
Cucumbers 180,342 186,306 189,704 206,227 230,369
Peppers 130,294 134,644 135,657 139,060 139,155
Lettuce 5,283 5,198 4,876 6,256 5,650
Eggplants .. .. 2,904 3,456 3,476
Microgreens and shoots .. .. .. 164 919
Fine herbs .. .. 219 755 579
Chinese vegetables .. .. 587 495 442
Sprouts .. .. .. 776 405
Beans (green and wax) .. .. 36 40 45
Total 596,251 587,825 604,990 636,723 660,535

Note:

.. : Not available for a specific reference period.

Source:  Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

1.9. Farm gate value of greenhouse vegetables by province (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Newfoundland and Labrador 83 145 42 141 143
Prince Edward Island 155 -   -   8 1,897
Nova Scotia 7,503 8,433 8,012 7,516 4,793
New Brunswick 90 244 29 115 295
Quebec 82,678 36,568 98,861 128,839 142,296
Ontario 796,226 831,591 859,787 917,857 955,487
Manitoba 87 609 82 975 1,217
Saskatchewan 873 1,386 715 708 1,480
Alberta 52,114 53,584 54,689 69,386 88,783
British Columbia 290,743 296,577 294,435 289,930 291,961
Canada1 1,238,667 1,295,856 1,331,163 1,437,089 1,511,251

Notes:

1. Totals may not add up as some data was suppressed to meet confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

- : Not available or too unreliable to be published.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

1.10. Farm gate value of greenhouse vegetables by commodity (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Tomatoes 507,098 514,251 537,032 555,196 565,005
Cucumbers 314,069 316,495 336,050 395,760 449,028
Peppers 389,700 420,539 409,980 421,873 428,257
Lettuce 27,800 28,769 27,366 32,036 31,597
Eggplants .. .. 7,757 11,531 11,727
Microgreens and shoots .. .. .. 3,585 8,384
Other fruits or vegetables .. 15,802 7,839 6,047 7,639
Fine herbs .. .. 3,559 8,576 7,155
Chinese vegetables .. .. 1,226 1,180 1,076
Sprouts .. .. .. 993 1,014
Beans (green and wax) .. .. 353 313 367
Total 1,238,667 1,295,856 1,331,163 1,437,089 1,511,251

Note:

.. : Not available for a specific reference period.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse vegetables

2. Labour

2.1. Total number of employees of specialized greenhouse vegetable operations

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Atlantic provinces Seasonal employees1 96 63 47 81 90
Permanent employees2 52 58 56 83 89
Total employees 148 121 103 164 179
Quebec Seasonal employees1 496 467 549 463 404
Permanent employees2 698 800 758 800 824
Total employees 1,194 1,267 1,307 1,263 1,228
Ontario Seasonal employees1 3,708 3,380 3,231 3,550 3,694
Permanent employees2 2,977 3,400 4,183 4,438 4,352
Total employees 6,685 6,780 7,414 7,988 8,046
Prairie provinces Seasonal employees1 96 120 129 183 161
Permanent employees2 399 385 373 669 680
Total employees 495 505 502 852 841
British Columbia Seasonal employees1 1,058 940 846 1,033 980
Permanent employees2 1,387 1,265 1,311 1,268 1,151
Total employees 2,445 2,205 2,157 2,301 2,131
Canada Seasonal employees1 5,454 4,970 4,805 5,310 5,329
Permanent employees2 5,513 5,908 6,701 7,254 7,096
Total employees 10,967 10,878 11,506 12,564 12,425

Notes:

1. Seasonal employees who worked less than 8 months during the year.

2. Permanent employees who worked more than 8 months during the year.
Due to confidentiality reasons, provincial breakdowns for Atlantic and Prairie provinces are not shown.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0028-01 Total number of employees of specialized greenhouse operations

3. Trade

3.1. Canadian greenhouse vegetable trade balance (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Exports 730,134 827,500 862,769 964,123 1,001,911
Import 310,047 369,810 460,392 383,737 332,631
Trade Balance
(Exports - Imports)
420,087 457,689 402,377 580,387 669,280
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.2. Exports

3.2.1. Canada's greenhouse vegetable exports by commodity – value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Tomatoes 297,957 311,310 341,598 391,123 368,492
Peppers 269,726 329,947 317,935 331,568 352,869
Cucumbers and gherkins 162,451 186,242 203,236 241,433 280,549
Total 730,134 827,500 862,769 964,123 1,001,911
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.2.2. Canada's greenhouse vegetable exports by commodity – volume (metric tonnes)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Tomatoes 133,955 125,327 140,083 152,617 138,161
Cucumbers and gherkins 77,485 93,631 96,310 104,038 114,215
Peppers 76,685 82,317 83,114 83,582 83,338
Total 288,125 301,275 319,507 340,237 335,714
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.2.3. Canada's greenhouse vegetable exports by province – value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Prince Edward Island 3 0 7 0 0
Nova Scotia 9 3 1 0 2
New Brunswick 2 3 8 2 3
Québec 3,238 5,766 6,970 11,616 17,775
Ontario 579,985 654,262 684,573 788,197 819,996
Alberta 278 378 620 4,687 9,484
British Columbia 146,618 167,087 170,591 159,622 154,646
Total 730,134 827,500 862,769 964,123 1,001,905
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.2.4. Canada's greenhouse vegetable exports by province – volume (metric tonnes)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Prince Edward Island 1 0 2 0 0
Nova Scotia 3 1 0 0 1
New Brunswick 1 1 2 1 1
Québec 2,422 4,370 4,394 4,906 5,185
Ontario 232,563 247,821 264,352 283,369 283,112
Alberta 227 206 354 2,263 4,376
British Columbia 52,909 48,876 50,402 49,699 43,034
Total 288,125 301,275 319,507 340,237 335,708
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.2.5. Greenhouse vegetable destinations by commodity – value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
United States Tomatoes 297,110 309,363 337,592 385,920 362,467
Peppers 269,679 329,693 317,559 330,817 352,053
Cucumbers and gherkins 162,330 186,202 203,208 241,421 280,520
Total 729,119 825,258 858,359 958,158 995,040
Japan Tomatoes 632 1,539 3,442 4,381 5,267
Peppers 0 0 15 337 574
Cucumbers and gherkins 2 17 0 0 0
Total 635 1,556 3,456 4,718 5,841
Taiwan Tomatoes 161 261 503 630 626
Peppers 0 0 10 43 16
Cucumbers and gherkins 4 0 0 0 0
Total 165 261 513 673 641
Hong Kong Peppers 6 174 316 277 213
Tomatoes 47 136 51 175 132
Cucumbers and gherkins 6 6 7 11 28
Total 58 316 373 464 373
France Peppers 15 11 14 8 10
Cucumbers and gherkins 1 0 0 0 0
Tomatoes 1 0 0 0 0
Total 17 11 15 9 11
Other countries Peppers 27 69 21 85 3
Cucumbers and gherkins 108 17 21 1 1
Tomatoes 6 11 11 16 1
Total 141 97 53 102 4
Total Tomatoes 297,957 311,310 341,598 391,123 368,492
Peppers 269,726 329,947 317,935 331,568 352,869
Cucumbers and gherkins 162,451 186,242 203,236 241,433 280,549
Total 730,134 827,500 862,769 964,123 1,001,911
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.2.6. Greenhouse vegetable destinations by commodity – volume (metric tonnes)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
United States Tomatoes 133,702 124,689 138,767 150,961 136,306
Cucumbers and gherkins 77,440 93,615 96,301 104,034 114,205
Peppers 76,668 82,243 82,990 83,377 83,130
Total 287,810 300,547 318,059 338,372 333,641
Japan Tomatoes 183 505 1,135 1,397 1,613
Peppers 0 0 4 86 140
Cucumbers and gherkins 1 6 0 0 0
Total 184 511 1,139 1,483 1,753
Taiwan Tomatoes 53 84 161 196 199
Peppers 0 0 3 13 4
Cucumbers and gherkins 1 0 0 0 0
Total 54 84 164 208 203
Hong Kong Peppers 2 52 93 79 61
Tomatoes 14 45 16 58 43
Cucumbers and gherkins 2 2 2 4 10
Total 18 99 112 142 113
France Peppers 4 2 4 2 2
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 0 0 0
Tomatoes 0 0 0 0 0
Total 4 3 4 2 3
Other countries Peppers 11 20 20 25 1
Cucumbers and gherkins 40 7 7 0 0
Tomatoes 2 4 3 5 0
Total 53 31 30 30 1
Total Tomatoes 133,955 125,327 140,083 152,617 138,161
Cucumbers and gherkins 77,485 93,631 96,310 104,038 114,215
Peppers 76,685 82,317 83,114 83,582 83,338
Total 288,125 301,275 319,507 340,237 335,714
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.3. Imports

3.3.1. Canada's greenhouse vegetable imports by commodity – value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Tomatoes 159,233 194,890 239,829 197,475 149,830
Peppers 108,055 129,741 172,910 140,311 138,543
Cucumbers and gherkins 41,971 44,348 46,885 45,088 43,705
Lettuce 674 794 721 863 553
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 113 38 47 0 0
Total 310,047 369,810 460,392 383,737 332,631
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.3.2. Canada's greenhouse vegetable imports by commodity –volume (metric tonnes)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Tomatoes 64,192 70,712 83,720 75,506 68,721
Peppers 37,998 38,086 45,415 43,567 49,453
Cucumbers and gherkins 27,157 25,063 25,305 23,473 23,775
Lettuce 247 284 317 374 181
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 72 27 36 0 0
Total 129,666 134,171 154,792 142,919 142,131
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.3.3. Greenhouse vegetable import sources – value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Mexico Tomatoes 143,632 174,814 211,696 175,045 126,643
Peppers 95,804 105,933 144,679 124,743 121,986
Cucumbers and gherkins 33,676 33,748 37,941 38,892 37,639
Lettuce 11 5 9 2 46
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 2 1 0 0 0
Total 273,113 314,495 394,317 338,680 286,268
United States Tomatoes 14,932 19,577 27,593 22,017 22,895
Peppers 2,423 4,776 7,224 6,209 6,390
Cucumbers and gherkins 6,423 8,134 6,186 5,102 5,025
Lettuce 630 762 689 840 468
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 106 36 46 0 0
Total 24,515 33,285 41,738 34,167 34,778
Spain Peppers 5,674 14,807 16,059 5,093 7,478
Cucumbers and gherkins 903 2,114 2,135 720 646
Lettuce 0 0 0 12 14
Tomatoes 0 23 110 0 0
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 6,578 16,943 18,305 5,825 8,139
Netherlands Peppers 8 156 1,529 1,238 1,151
Cucumbers and gherkins 514 21 419 227 283
Lettuce 0 2 0 0 0
Tomatoes 0 0 0 3 0
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 521 178 1,948 1,468 1,434
Guatemala Peppers 267 667 677 2,490 758
Tomatoes 445 146 98 74 117
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 1 0 0 0 0
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 0 0 0
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 714 813 774 2,565 874
Other countries Peppers 3,878 3,402 2,741 537 780
Tomatoes 224 331 331 336 175
Cucumbers and gherkins 467 336 213 149 156
Lettuce 33 25 22 9 25
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 4 2 1 0 0
Total 4,606 4,096 3,310 1,032 1,137
Total Tomatoes 159,233 194,890 239,829 197,475 149,830
Peppers 108,055 129,741 172,910 140,311 138,543
Cucumbers and gherkins 41,971 44,348 46,885 45,088 43,705
Lettuce 674 794 721 863 553
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 113 38 47 0 0
Total 310,047 369,810 460,392 383,737 332,631
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

3.3.4. Greenhouse vegetable import sources – volume (metric tonnes)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Mexico Tomatoes 57,867 63,058 73,401 67,488 59,124
Peppers 33,811 31,908 38,071 39,397 44,377
Cucumbers and gherkins 23,332 20,585 21,690 21,010 21,356
Lettuce 4 1 4 1 19
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 1 0 0 0 0
Total 115,009 115,551 133,162 127,895 124,857
United States Tomatoes 6,062 7,400 10,138 7,882 9,500
Peppers 921 1,317 1,994 2,035 2,577
Cucumbers and gherkins 2,897 3,151 2,362 1,913 1,951
Lettuce 237 278 309 366 158
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 68 26 36 0 0
Total 10,186 12,172 14,839 12,196 14,187
Spain Peppers 1,565 3,722 4,047 1,290 1,618
Cucumbers and gherkins 434 1,149 951 352 308
Lettuce 0 0 0 4 2
Tomatoes 0 14 33 0 0
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2,000 4,885 5,031 1,646 1,928
Guatemala Peppers 1 26 381 338 365
Cucumbers and gherkins 289 13 216 140 109
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Tomatoes 0 0 0 1 0
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 290 39 597 480 474
Netherlands Peppers 59 107 96 367 326
Tomatoes 180 59 36 22 37
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 0 0 0
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 240 166 132 389 363
Other countries Peppers 1,639 1,006 826 140 190
Tomatoes 82 182 112 113 59
Cucumbers and gherkins 211 166 89 58 70
Lettuce 6 4 3 3 2
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 2 0 1 0 0
Total 1,940 1,358 1,031 314 321
Total Tomatoes 64,192 70,712 83,720 75,506 68,721
Peppers 37,998 38,086 45,415 43,567 49,453
Cucumbers and gherkins 27,157 25,063 25,305 23,473 23,775
Lettuce 247 284 317 374 181
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 72 27 36 0 0
Total 129,666 134,171 154,792 142,919 142,131
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2019)

4. Key Resources

  • Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse vegetables
  • Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0019-01 Estimates of specialized greenhouse operations, greenhouse area, and months of operation
  • Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0028-01 Total number of employees of specialized greenhouse operations
  • Statistics Canada. CATSNET
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