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Premier Horticulture, Carrot River
June 1, 2015
Carrot River
by: Timothy W. Shire
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On the right, you can see a group of Good Sam folks looking at a bog, the same kind of typical bog you can see throughout Canada on the edge of the boreal forest and the precambrian shield. The tell tale sign of a bog is of course the scraggy looking black spruce, often about to fall over. In that watery marsh grows moss and generation after generation of it accumulates and when it is harvested, as in the pile below, it is fluffy fibre, that can sustain growth and vastly improve soil for plants to grow in.

Friday May 23 our
Wheatland Sam group visited the site where is harvesting peat moss north of Carrot River.

The company will not consider developing a bog unless it is more than four feet deep in moss. When they have finished removing the product, which takes years to do, they must by regulation, leave a foot of the stuff on the plot then they re-flood it and return it to its natural state.
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The process is a lengthy one, first the bog is cleared of trees, which are used to create the roads through the plots. Remember, when they start work on a bog, it is a swamp and the trees form a matrix to build useable roadways. Ditches are put in place and the bog is drained of water, often using a series of pumps. The next part of the development involves working up the drying bog to rake off the roots and wood until it looks like a field. The plot is tiled and smoothed so the material will dry then the barvesting begins.

Using giant vacuum cleaners, like the one on the right, or the self propelled one at the top of the page, about two inches of fluff is sucked up and then piled in the mounds along the roadways, like the one above. The harvesting crews work from April until the snow arrives, sucking up the moss seven days a week from sun up until sundown. The mounds of product are left in place for the processing plant to pick up and bale the peat for sale.

Twenty two pallets of peat bales are packed onto “B” trains and shipped to market. Almost all of the Carrot River production is sold in the United States with very little competition. The peat is of high quality and very much in demand although, sales are higher when the loonies is lower in value. For some time “Moneys” mushrooms in California was using a “B” train of Carrot River product a day. However, the poorer economic climate in the United States since 2008 has seen the demand for mushrooms decline, simply because it is luxury product.

With the present bogs now in production and ones being developed in the Hudson Bay area, the company has about 100 years of production available.

For more details about the nature of the peat moss business, look over this
PDF document by Janet MacKenzie written in 2003 about the background to the industry.
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