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Grain and Forage Crop Producer

Grain and forage crop producers are farmers who grow grains such as wheat, barley, canola, oats, rye, flax, peas and specialty crops or forage crops.

  • Avg. Salary $74,215.00
  • Avg. Wage $33.00
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
Also Known As


NOC & Interest Codes
The Grain and Forage Crop Producer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Farmers and Farm Managers
NOC code: 8251

Interest in supervising and hiring farm workers; and in determining amounts and kinds of crops to be grown and livestock to be raised, and in purchasing farm machinery, livestock, seed, feed and other supplies


Interest in co-ordinating information to plant, cultivate and harvest crops; and in raising and breeding livestock and poultry


Interest in driving - operating and maintaining farm machinery, equipment and buildings

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 16, 2016

Grain and forage crop producers may specialize in different types of operations. Their duties vary depending on the type of crop and the size and purpose of the operation but, in general, they:

  • determine the amount and kinds of crops to be grown
  • carry out or oversee the cultivation, planting, fertilizing, spraying and harvesting of crops
  • recruit and supervise permanent or short-term staff
  • market crops
  • load harvested crops for transport to markets
  • purchase farm machinery, seed and other supplies
  • maintain machinery, equipment and buildings
  • develop and maintain financial and production records.

Producers may grow traditional crops such as wheat, barley, oats or oilseeds (for example, canola), pedigreed seed or specialty crops. Specialty crops are small acreage crops such as spices, specialty oats and barley, hemp, confectionary seeds, bird seed, medicinal crops or processing crops such as corn, peas, beans or carrots. 

In addition to the duties listed above, specialty crop production may require:

  • operating and managing specialized machines (for example, planters, harvesters)
  • highly skilled marketing
  • crop-specific quality control practices.

Commercial forage crop producers plant legumes or grasses to sell as feed for livestock. Some specialize in one type of forage (for example, alfalfa) which they may sell to processing plants to be dehydrated and compressed into pellets or cubes.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Grain farming is a highly mechanized operation. Grain farmers must be willing to spend long and sometimes tedious days operating machinery during seeding and harvesting seasons. They also must be prepared to work in hot, dusty conditions some of the time, although air-conditioned machine cabs have changed this for many.

The work is done mostly during the growing seasons, leaving more time in winter to prepare for the next year and attend continuing education programs. However, many grain farmers supplement their operation with livestock production or forage production. Pedigreed seed-grain and forage seed growers must clean their grain and often are busy throughout the year.

Grain and forage crop producers routinely lift loads weighing up to 20 kilograms.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Grain and forage crop producers need the following characteristics:

  • good organizational skills
  • patience, a positive attitude and a high level of personal commitment
  • good business skills
  • a high degree of self-discipline
  • strength and endurance
  • the mechanical aptitude required to operate and service equipment
  • excellent health with no allergies to grains or forage dust .

They should enjoy taking responsibility for their operations, taking a methodical approach to their work and driving and operating machinery and equipment.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Grain and forage crop production is a specialized, high investment business. Producers need a good working knowledge of:

  • soil and crop management
  • plant nutrition
  • disease and pest control
  • business and financial management
  • environmental issues and compliance requirements
  • crop marketing
  • machinery operation and maintenance.

Individuals may acquire the required knowledge and experience by working on farms or taking related education programs. Project management and negotiation skills are a definite asset.

The Alberta Green Certificate Program offered through the Government of Alberta is an apprenticeship-style training that combines hands-on farm mentorship with formal education.

The Green Certificate is a complimentary program of study available to students of all Alberta high schools. There are various specializations offered (for example, dairy production and field crop production) at each level. Graduates of the Level I Green Certificate Program are certified as farm production technician and may earn up to 16 credits towards their high school diploma for each specialization completed. Levels II (farm production supervisor) and III (agribusiness manager) Green Certificates are also available for those who are interested in advancing their career in the agriculture industry.

To participate in the Green Certificate Program, trainees must be at least 15 years of age and enrolled in grade 10, 11 or 12. The training takes approximately one year, allowing trainees to experience all of the seasons on a farming operation.

For more information about the program and admission requirements, students may follow the Green Certificate Program link above or contact their school representative to connect with the Green Certificate regional coordinator.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

In Alberta, some specialized crops (for example, sugar beets), are regulated under supply management systems. Specialized crop producers may be required to register with an industry organization such as the Canadian Seed Growers Association.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Some grain and forage crop producers own or rent land; others are employed as farm managers. The high costs of land and equipment make starting a grain operation difficult. Many young farmers take over family farms, or are part of a family co-operative operation or family corporation.

Most grain and forage crop producers do not rely solely on one type of crop for income. For example, forage crops may be rotated with grain production, or hay and grain may be produced for livestock consumption.

For those seeking work on large farms as labourers, technicians, supervisors or managers, local Employment and Social Development Canada offices are helpful in bringing together farmer-employers and potential employees.

Grain and forage crop producers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0821: Managers in agriculture. In Alberta, 97% of people employed in this classification work in the Agricultural (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Agriculture industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 37,500 Albertans are employed in the Farmers and farm managers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.9% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 338 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As grain and forage crop producers form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for grain and forage crop producers.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Annual incomes for grain and forage crop producers vary greatly depending on the type of operation, current market prices, weather conditions and operating expenses. The timing of seeding and harvesting can mean the difference between profit and loss.

Managers' salaries often vary according to business size.

Grain and forage crop producers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0821: Managers in agriculture.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Managers in agriculture occupational group earned on average from $24.87 to $43.59 an hour. The overall average wage was $33.00 an hour. For more information, see the Managers in agriculture wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Natural Resources
    • Agriculture
    • Environmental Stewardship
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC) website:

Canadian Seed Growers' Association website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 09, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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