Canary Seed

Learn more about Canadian canary seed production by visiting the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan website.



The scientific name for canaryseed is Phalaris canariensis, and as the name would suggest, the crop originated in the Canary Islands.


Saskatchewan has become the world’s leading producer and exporter of canaryseed, with the production used almost exclusively as a component of feed mixtures for caged and wild birds. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada estimates the value of Canadian exports at over $134 million in 2008 and nearly $90 million in 2009.


The Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan is working to get canaryseed approved for human food uses. This is the main activity of the producer-funded commission. Some consumption of canaryseed is occurring in the health food market, especially in countries with a Hispanic population.



There are two main types of canaryseed, itchy and hairless. About two-thirds of the Saskatchewan acreage is comprised of the itchy varieties, which have tiny, sharp hairs at the base of the seed.


Hairless or glabrous varieties have been developed by Dr. Pierre Hucl of the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre. Although these varieties make harvesting and processing more comfortable, many growers feel that the older itchy varieties provide higher, more stable yields and that has limited the uptake of the new varieties.


The itchy varieties in use include Keet, Cantate and Elias. Elias pedigreed seed has not been produced in recent years.


The glabrous varieties are CDC Maria and CDC Togo. Togo is the newer of the two and has better yields than Maria. Another glabrous variety called CDC Bastia has been registered, but no commercial seed was available for 2010.


The bushel weight of itchy varieties is considered to be 50 pounds, while the glabrous varieties are typically calculated at 56 pounds per bushel.


Canaryseed is not a regulated crop under the Canadian Grain Commission. There are no established grades and there are no licensing and bonding requirements for buyers.