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Checking in with U.S. Christmas tree growers

Checking in with U.S. Christmas tree growers

Some farms experienced losses because of wet weather

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

More families are choosing real trees for Christmas centerpieces compared to  fake trees from department stores.

Consumers purchased 32.8 million Christmas trees in 2018, the National Christmas Tree Association’s (NCTA) annual consumer survey says. That figure is up from 27.4 million trees in 2017.

The uptick in tree sales is a result of marketing to a specific demographic, said Paul Schroeder, president of the NCTA.

“The market is strong, and we like it,” he told Farms.com. “We’re seeing more millennials in the marketplace. It’s a trend the industry tried to develop to get the next generation out to tree farms because there’s no doubt fake trees took a big bite out of our market.”

This year, Christmas tree growers faced the same production issues that other crop producers did.

Wet conditions caused ponding in fields and tree losses, said Schroeder, who manages about 500,000 trees at his family’s farm, North Countree Christmas Inc. in Wausaukee, Wis.

“We got 10 inches of rain in September and it didn’t go away,” he said to Farms.com. “Some of our fields aren’t as sloped as well as I’d like them to be, and we had pools in places we’ve never had them before. Christmas trees don’t like wet feet and we had some losses due to the heavy rains.”

It can take about 10 years for a Christmas tree to be ready for harvest. The trees consumers are buying now were likely planted during the recession when many industries tried to reduce costs, Schroeder said.

So, tree buyers shouldn’t wait too long before heading out to a local farm.

“Supplies seem a little tight, but I think there’s enough trees to go around,” Schroeder said. “There’s no question there was some problems with supply and demand in the earlier part of the decade. What we really need to figure out now is if there’s actually a shortage or if it’s increased demand.”

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