Annual Greenhouse, Sod and Nursery Survey

Detailed information for 2007





Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to collect information on the production and value of greenhouse products, nursery stocks and sod produced in Canada.

Data release - April 18, 2008


This survey collects data on greenhouse, sod and nursery operations in Canada. The data are used by federal and provincial agriculture departments and producer associations to perform market trend analysis and to study domestic production with particular interest on imports. This survey also contributes to the Agricultural receipts program of Statistics Canada.

Reference period: Calendar year


  • Agriculture and food (formerly Agriculture)
  • Crops and horticulture

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The survey frame has been designed to include all operations cultivating greenhouse, sod and nursery products based on the latest Census of Agriculture. Institutional farms, farms on Indian reservations, Hutterite colonies as well as operations from Yukon, the North West Territories and Nunavut were excluded from the survey. After these exclusions the remaining farms represent the initial survey frame.

Observations on the survey frame have been extracted from the previous year's Greenhouse, Sod and Nursery Survey and the Census of Agriculture, to which have been added some operations coming from external sources. The new operations are either new farms since the Census or farms missed by the Census.

Excluded from the survey frame were greenhouse areas of glass or plastic conservatories maintained for non-commercial purposes. Also excluded were greenhouse only operations in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia with less than 5,000 square feet and greenhouse sales less than $10,000. Greenhouse only operations in the remaining provinces with less than 1,000 square feet were excluded from the survey frame. Furthermore, sod only operations with less than 40 acres (10 acres in the Atlantic) and nursery only operations with less than 5 acres were excluded from the survey frame.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was developed by subject matter through consultation with the provinces and industry experts. New questions are not pre-tested in the field. Subject Matter, Survey Operations Division and Operations Research Development Division conduct in-house testing for flow and consistency. Subject Matter will change, add or remove questions as the need arises. Required changes are usually identified through such means Subject Matter research, changes in market trends and field staff debriefing reports.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

For each province, three strata were defined. The first stratum includes all the greenhouse only operations with greenhouse area less than 1 acre and greenhouse sales less than $110,000. The second stratum includes operations with greenhouse area less than 1 acre and greenhouse sales less than $110,000, and nursery area less than 5 acres, and with no sod area. Finally, the remaining operations were put in a third stratum. For each province, operations were sampled in the first two strata and then a census was taken of all operations in the third stratum. For each stratum, the minimum sample size was 15 and the maximum design weight was 10.

Overall, the sample size was determined in order to achieve a target CV of 0.01 (1%) for greenhouse sales, greenhouse area and nursery area at the provincial level. The final sample size for this survey was 4,948.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2008-02-16 to 2008-03-09

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The survey information is collected by telephone interview in Statistics Canada Regional Offices, using a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) application. Questionnaires are mailed to the farm a few weeks prior to collection for the farmer's reference during the interview.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

With the introduction of the CATI methodology, it is now possible to implement edit procedures at the time of the interview. Computer programmed edit checks in the CATI system inform interviewers during the interview of possible data errors, which can then be corrected immediately by the interviewer and respondent. The CATI system significantly reduces the need for subsequent telephone follow-up, thereby reducing respondent burden and survey processing time.


Erroneous data and partially completed questionnaires are imputed using historical data information.


The survey data collected are weighted within each stratum in order to produce estimates representative of the population. Non-responding units, for example, no contacts and refusals, are dealt with by adjusting the initial sample weights.

Quality evaluation

Checks on data quality are difficult because similar data are not available elsewhere. The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Producers Marketing Board's annual reports provide detailed production information on vegetables in Essex County which confirms the results of the survey in that region.

Analysis of the top contributors and historical comparisons are performed before a final estimate is disseminated.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

The Greenhouse, Sod and Nursery Survey obtained a response rate of approximately 91% of survey respondents. Non-responding units, for example, no contacts and refusals, are dealt with by adjusting the initial sample weights.

The overall quality of the estimates depends on the combined effect of sampling and non-sampling errors. Sampling errors arise because estimates are derived from sample data and not the entire population. Non-sampling errors are errors which are not related to sampling and may occur throughout the survey operation for many reasons. For example, non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. Coverage, differences in the interpretation of questions, incorrect information from respondents, mistakes in recording, coding and processing of data are other examples of non-sampling errors.

The estimates published are based on a probability sample of farming operations. The potential error introduced by sampling can be estimated from the sample itself by using a statistical measure called the coefficient of variation (CV). Over repeated surveys, 95 times out of 100, the relative difference between a sample estimate and what should have been obtained from an enumeration of all farming operations with respect to the sample estimates would be less than twice the coefficient of variation. The sample estimate, plus or minus twice the CV is referred to as the confidence interval. For the Greenhouse, Sod and Nursery Survey, CV's at the Canada level range generally from 2% to 10% for the variables that are more frequently reported (area, investment, expenditures, sales) which makes them very reliable. Less commonly reported variables are associated with higher, but still acceptable CV's, usually under 25%.

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