Agriculture plays a major role in the local economy. Hard spring wheat and durum are the predominant cereal crops grown in the region. Canola, mustard, flax, peas, and lentils have also increased significantly in recent years. The city is also home to a number of agricultural implement dealers, serving the southeast region as a whole. The warm, sunny climate makes it an ideal location for agricultural cropping.
The southeast Saskatchewan has a semi-arid continental climate with warm summer and cold winters. Agriculture is the major land use in the southeast and water availability is significant. The two watersheds that cover the boundaries of southeast Saskatchewan are the Upper Souris River and the Lower Souris River watersheds. The southeast area of Saskatchewan has much soil water that is readily available. Close to 60% of the region has between 75 to 99 millimetres of available soil water. 39% of the region has 100 millimetres or more of available soil water. A little more than 1% of the region has only 50 to 74 millimetres of available soil water. The southeast region receives about 445 millimetres of precipitation annually, 330 millimetres are rain and the remaining 115 millimetres are snow. On average, Saskatchewan has 211 days per year when the temperature drops below freezing. In the southeast area, though, the number of frost-free days can be as high as 124 days, as recorded in Estevan. Saskatchewan is also the sunniest province year round, with Estevan being known as the Sunshine Capital of Saskatchewan, receiving an average of 2,536.6 hours of sunshine every year.
In 2011, Saskatchewan was reported as the largest areas of spring wheat, durum wheat, oats, rye, canola, flaxseed, dry field peas, chickpeas, lentils, mustard, canary and caraway seed in Canada.
Durum wheat area increased 14.8% to 3.7 million acres in 2011.
The area reported in hay and feed grains declined in 2011. Hay area decreased 11.0% to 4.6 million acres, barley area decreased 33.8% to 2.3 million acres, oat area decreased 25.7% to 1.7 million acres and mixed grain area decreased 43.1% to 85,786 acres.
Sour cherry area continued to increase in Saskatchewan with a 37.5% increase from 2006 to a total of 220 acres in 2011.
In Saskatchewan, no-till methods were used on 70.1% of the land prepared for seeding in 2011, up from 60.2% in 2006. Conventional tillage decreased to 9.7% of land prepared for seeding, from 18.3% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on 20.2% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 21.5% in 2006.
The 2011 Census marked the first time farm operators were asked to report the area from which crop residue was baled for bedding or sale.
The 2011 Census of Agriculture showed that canola area surpassed spring wheat area for the top spot among field crops in Saskatchewan. Despite the decrease in spring wheat area, Saskatchewan continued to report the largest area of spring wheat with 47.4% of Canada’s total.
Since 2006, the total lentil area in Saskatchewan increased 94.1% to 2.5 million acres in 2011, accounting for 96.0% of the total lentil area in the country.
Oilseed and grain farm and beef farm types accounted for 77.0% and 11.7% of total 2010 gross farm receipts respectively.
Saskatchewan reported 49,475 farm operators in 2011, 16.4% lower than in 2006, following the trend in the number of farms.
High-speed internet access was reported by 47.9% of all farms in Saskatchewan, while the national average was 44.8%.
In Saskatchewan 32.9% of all farms in the province reported paid labor for the year 2010. The census counted 28,904 paid employees, of whom 36.8% worked year-round in a full or part-time capacity while 63.2% were seasonal or temporary employees.