Skip to content

635E Scarifier Helping the High-Ballers

Proper scarification is very important to accelerate the tree planting process. The fastest growing reforestation company in Canada, HRI, has turned to Tigercat’s, six-wheel 635E scarifier to get the job done.

– Samantha Paul, marketing

With a strong reputation for innovation and hard work, Heritage Reforestation Inc. is the fastest growing reforestation company in Canada. HRI has been in the silviculture business for nearly twenty years, specializing in all aspects of reforestation including site preparation and tree planting. Their operations span Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.


Tigercat 635E scarifier preparing the land for replanting of jack pine in Sudbury, ON.

Site preparation is generally referred to as scarification, which is a process of breaking up the untamed surface after the land has been harvested. A heavy-duty carrier equipped with a disc or trenching attachment is typically used to break through the branches and leftover tops to expose the soil to more light, water and access to nutrients, which encourages strong healthy root formation. Proper scarification is very important to accelerate the tree planting process and significantly boosts productivity.

Jack MacDonald, owner of HRI, employs up to 350 people. These consist mostly of seasonal tree planters during the busy season – where Jack started in the industry himself. “I started planting in 1991 and I bet I have planted over a million trees in my day,” claims Jack. “Tree planting is a demanding job – physically and mentally, however it can be a very gratifying experience.” Planters work in all kinds of weather, from rain and snow to 35°C (95°F) heat. The work itself involves strapping on planting bags full of trees that weigh 5-10 kg (10-25 lbs), grabbing a shovel and covering your land.

Planters work as quickly or as slowly as they want but by the end of the day, everybody stinks of sweat. The crew of tree planters gets in the van and tells the crew boss how many trees they each planted that day, and then fall asleep on the drive back to camp. The goal is to be awarded the coveted designation of Camp High-baller – the person who planted the most trees that day!

Tigercat 635E scarifier with a Bracke T26 plus disc trencher attachment.

Six-wheel Tigercat 635E

Jack MacDonald and his crew at HRI typically prepare and plant 6 000 hectares (15,000 acres) each year, requiring the most productive and reliable equipment. Jack owns four Caterpillar scarifier-type machines but was looking for something bigger and stronger as his company continued to grow. That is when Jack turned to Tigercat and ordered himself a 635E with a Bracke T26 plus disc trencher attachment from Tigercat dealer, Wajax Equipment – the first Tigercat 635E scarifier in Ontario. “I couldn’t find a machine big enough that [would accommodate] three arms and a strong bogie system unless I went to a Tigercat design,” claims Jack. At 194 kW (260 hp), the 635E is Tigercat’s highest capacity skidder, built for extreme duty and super high production logging operations. With a high constant duty cycle, scarifying is considered to be one of the most demanding and punishing applications for off road equipment.

The 635E scarifier was delivered August 2014 and started operations in Gogama near Sudbury, Ontario. It will be working its way north through vast areas of slash and rocky terrain toward Timmins, scarifying the ground for jack pine to be replanted. Jack MacDonald and his team were so impressed with the Tigercat 635E performance that they have purchased another, scheduled to ship this spring, where it will be preparing land for tree planting in Alberta.

Jack MacDonald visited Sweden last year to see the Tigercat carrier with Bracke three row attachment working in the field. This trip to Sweden led Jack to decide to purchase his first Tigercat scarifier as his prime mover. (L-R) HRI owner, Jack MacDonald; HRI field mechanic/foreman, Shilo MacDonald; visiting Swedish owner/operators and president of Bracke, Klas-Håkan Ljungberg.

The four other scarifiers that Jack owns only have two arms and four wheels in comparison to the Tigercat 635E with three arms and six wheels. “Having the three arms on the Tigercat machine makes things much more productive and is cutting down fuel costs by 35%,” says Jack. “Although the terrain is not very swampy, the operators are much more willing to go into softer and wetter terrain with the six-wheel design when they do come across it.”

Ground scarification is extremely hard on the prime mover and considered one of the most demanding forestry applications because of the near 100% duty cycle. In addition, because the scarifying work is done in a row pattern, the operators have very little leeway to avoid obstacles.

Jack strongly agrees that good cab ergonomics are very important to getting an operator to stay in the cab for longer time periods. Jesse Valencourt has been working with Jack for six years, previously operating the four-wheel machines and now the Tigercat 635E scarifier. Jesse loves the Turnaround® seat, the tracks and the smoother ride due to the Tigercat bogie system. A happy operator makes for a happy owner and Tigercat is proud to provide the scarification equipment necessary to accelerate the tree planting process for HRI and help out those hard working high-ballers!

Related Content


Investing in Silviculture

Back in 2010, BTB visited silviculture contractor, Donald Robbins who collaborated with Tigercat to modify a 610 series skidder to suit his requirements for a silviculture base carrier. Eight years later, we revisited Donald’s operations to check up on the machines and learn a little more about his current challenges and the importance of modern, reliable, purpose-built equipment.

1075B Scarifier in Sweden

A Tigercat 1075B forwarder base carrier equipped as a scarifier. This 1075B scarifier is operating in Sweden in tough, rock strewn terrain. Durable Tigercat forwarders are ideal carriers for heavy duty cycle scarification applications.