The main agricultural area is triangular, and runs along the American border to the south, and 230 miles north along the Saskatchewan border to the west, and then diagonally back to the southeast corner of the province. The northern part of the province is made up of very rugged terrain, enormous pine forests, lakes and rivers, many of which can be reached only by float plane. Agriculture has been one of the most important sources of livelihood in Manitoba since the days of the first pioneers.
Wheat continues to be a most important Manitoba crop, accounting for up to 30% of crop production value, followed by barley and canola (rape). Other major crops are oats, rye, peas, soy beans, and corn, with the province dominating Canadian production of flax seed, sunflowers, and buckwheat. Despite the dominance of grain production, Manitoba agriculture is more diversified than the other prairie provinces, with special crops, horticulture, and livestock making a significant contribution to total province income. The major grain and oil seed crops are grown throughout the province, while most of the special crops are concentrated in the area bounded by the Red River Valley, Portage La Prairie, Brandon, and the American border. However, even though grain farms predominate, the agricultural industry also has a large livestock nucleus. Beef cattle are mainly raised in the western part of the province and Interlake regions, while most dairy farms are concentrated in the area south of Winnipeg. This area also accommodates many intensive hog and poultry units. The overall average farm size is now 1,000 acres per farm, with the total provincial farmed area being just under 19,000,000 acres.
Manitoba offers a wide and diversified range of farming systems, typically being grain, beef, dairy, hogs, or poultry, and may well be a combination of all. Potato production in the province is growing rapidly, together with a wide variety of special crops, especially beans, including soya beans.
For livestock operations, a good reliable water supply is a key factor for consideration, usually from a well or borehole, or from a dugout in-ground storage reservoir.
Manitoba is renowned for its high quality grain and oilseed crops. Arable units account for the largest percentage of farms in central and western Manitoba with the main crops grown being Red Spring wheat, barley, canola (oilseed rape), and flax. Other crops grown in Manitoba are Durham wheat, peas, edible beans, soya beans, lentils, canary seed, corn, sunflowers, potatoes, oats, and rye, with increasing production of winter wheat for feed and the ethanol market. Most farmers use GPS for better precision and efficiency when applying fertilizer, chemical, and fungicide. Due to the generally low humidity in western Canada, there is much less fungal disease than experienced in western Europe.