Horticulture has become too complex, they are turning to cereals

When his crop plan for the season was ready and he had already placed his orders for vegetable seedlings and transplants, horticulturist Alain Ferland decided in February to cancel everything at the last minute to focus solely on corn and soybean production.

“I’m still passionate about it,” insists the farmer from Saint-Rémi, in Montérégie, “but the profile of deal [dans l’industrie maraîchère] doesn’t make sense, and the producers have to think about them. I woke up a bit. It’s over forever. »

Several factors influenced his spontaneous decision to put aside his “child’s dream”, beginning with the uncertainty about the prices that his vegetables obtain each year from the large chains and wholesalers and the difficult profitability, especially in a context of input costs. upward. Added to this is the growing paperwork and labor issues. “It’s so complicated to get to your destination that in the end you don’t know what you’re going to get,” says the owner of Cultures Ferland, which normally produces 121 hectares of beet, celeriac, onion, cabbage and pumpkin, as well as 40 hectares of crops. field for rotation. In 2022, instead, he will produce 162 hectares of corn and soybeans. “In arable farming, you make a phone call and books half of your harvest and your price”, he argues.

Mathieu Riendeau, a field crop and cabbage grower in the same city, will limit himself to just hay, wheat and soybeans this year. A choice justified in part by the difficulty of hiring the labor necessary for horticultural work. However, grain farming, which is more automated, removes this burden. “I didn’t want to rack my brain anymore. It has nothing to do with prices. I usually hire two local workers and deal with an agency, but it was getting more and more complicated. This year I will have no employees. I will be able to do everything with my spouse,” she explains.

Amélie Reny Coulombe, who this year adds soy to her production, will not stop growing vegetables, but admits to questioning herself. Photo: Courtesy of Amélie Reny Coulombe

A reflection that begins

With the ever-increasing administrative burden of hiring foreign workers, complying with environmental standards, and obtaining CanadaGAP health certification, Association des producteurs maraîchers du Québec director of research and development, Catherine Lessard, would not be surprised if a similar reflection began for many gardeners, especially those of medium size, who must meet the same requirements as the large ones, but with fewer resources. “I don’t have any data and we may not see a difference this year, because the cultivation plans are already done, but I found out. Some are thinking about it long term,” she says.

Île-d’Orléans vegetable grower Amélie Reny Coulombe is integrating soybeans on her 72-hectare areas for the first time in 2022. “We are reducing the horticultural areas a bit. Basically, I wanted to do crop rotations adding soybeans, but I admit I questioned myself. How long can I go on like this? […] every year is match from A to Z”, he argues.

Still reeling from market congestion that led to large surpluses and derisory prices for his cabbages last year, Alain Dulude, who grows more than 200 hectares of vegetables and 360 hectares of field crops in Saint-Rémi and Saint-Constant, considered scrapping the vegetable production in 2022 to focus solely on corn and soybeans. However, he changed his mind for the sake of keeping clients from him. “We always have the little hamster hanging around. heard about it [que des confrères songent à se tourner vers les grandes cultures]. I think he will end up feeling ”, points out the one who will begin to transplant in the field at the beginning of May and that he crosses his fingers to have a better season than last year.

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