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Alfalfa seed: a growing industry

It’s a good time to be an alfalfa seed grower, says the president of the Alfalfa Seed Commission.

“It’s been a fantastic industry to be in the last few years, with tremendous growth,” said Darren Nikkel, an Enchant-area seed grower who spoke at the Alberta Forage Industry Network AGM in mid-March.

After hitting a low of 10,000 acres in 2004, the certified alfalfa seed industry in Alberta has been slowly rebuilding, said Nikkel.

“It took until 2008 to regain the acres that were lost,” he said.

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Alfalfa seed acres reached 22,000 in 2012 and jumped to 25,000 in 2013.

“But the industry in Alberta has not slowed its growth since then. We were at 27,600 acres last year, and we’ll be higher than that this year — quite substantially.”

And there’s no mystery why.

“There’s been a shortage of alfalfa seed the last few years, which has caused higher prices and has been the main reason for the increase in acres here in Alberta.”

A drop in seed production in the U.S. has also created more opportunities for certified alfalfa seed growers in Canada — especially in Alberta, where GM alfalfa hasn’t yet spread.

“There’s a supply shortage for seed, and it would take an awful lot to refill that supply chain,” said Nikkel.

“We have tremendous opportunities in the alfalfa seed industry, and we’re planning to capitalize on them.”

About the author

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Jennifer Blair

Jennifer Blair is a Red Deer-based reporter with a post-secondary education in professional writing and nearly 10 years of experience in corporate communications, policy development, and journalism. She's spent half of her career telling stories about an industry she loves for an audience she admires--the farmers who work every day to build a better agriculture industry in Alberta.

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