An industry magazine came in to me at the store this week with some not so surprising news about a garden product almost everyone uses, peat moss. Peat moss is used for just about everything in …
An industry magazine came in to me at the store this week with some not so surprising news about a garden product almost everyone uses, peat moss. Peat moss is used for just about everything in gardening, it loosens hard soil, retains moisture so you can water less, it is all natural and self sustaining and usually pretty cheap. Because of these features, peat moss is used in most soil mixes like Miracle Grow soils, potting mixes and seed starting mixes. It grows in peat bogs which are dispersed around the world, but close to seventy percent of the world’s peat production comes from just one country, Canada.
But the Canadian peat harvest this year is “well below expected levels” says industry insiders. This isn’t very surprising to me as I have been talking about the weather and fire issues that Canada has been facing for months now in the store. Peat moss requires just the right weather to get a good harvest, just like any other crop. Members of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association just completed a survey about the status of their 2023 harvest as of August 31st and it didn’t look promising. The harvest overall varied regionally, but was well below expected levels. One peat industry executive said it’s one of the worst harvests in the thirty years he has been in the business. For instance, in Western Canada, Alberta harvested just forty-eight percent of the expected harvest mainly due to the wildfires that were still burning until just recently.
Likewise, Manitoba had seventy-nine percent of the harvest and Saskatchewan hit sixty-eight percent. In the east record breaking rain meant it was too wet to get machinery on the bogs to harvest. As a result, bogs in New Brunswick harvested just thirty-nine percent of the expected level, with Québec at fifty-nine percent and Ontario at seventy-two percent. So what does this mean for you? With these shortages the price of peat moss will be going up again in 2024 which will result in many soil mix products using peat moss will be going up as well. If you have the room to store it, getting soils this fall will save you money next spring. Even if the price looks the same next year, look for the incredible shrinking package. Many two cubic foot bags have already gone to one and a half cubic feet and maybe even smaller next season to hold the line on prices. Peat moss supplies have been put under pressure ever since Covid, and they have never been able to catch back up to demand.
Before Covid a 3.8 cubic foot bale of peat moss was around $12.99 a bale, today they are around $22.99 and next year probably around $26 dollars. The peat market is so tight right now that suppliers are not giving us price quotes more than three months in advance, so I don’t even know what my price will be in the spring yet. I would advise anyone who knows they will need some peat for their garden next spring to get it now. I know the price will not go down next year.
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