Farms are busy and trees are full, growers said
By Diego Flammini
With only 29 days until Christmas, American tree farms are becoming busier with shoppers looking for the perfect tree.
American families purchased 27.4 million trees in 2017 at an average price of US$75, the National Christmas Tree Association says. Those figures equate to more than US$2 billion in Christmas tree sales.
As the calendar inches towards December, Farms.com connected with U.S. Christmas tree growers for an update on the season so far.
Thanksgiving weekend was an ideal time to purchase a tree, said Kerry Dull, co-founder of Dull’s Tree Farm, a 3,500-tree operation in Thorntown, Ind.
“We had a very busy and brisk three days,” she told Farms.com. “The weather plays a role in that too. We had beautiful weather and that always brings people out to the farm. The trees are lush and full, and people love to come out to choose their trees.”
Like more traditional crops, Christmas trees can be susceptible to pests.
Trees can require up to four insecticide treatments per year to battle pests like the pine tip moth.
But growers watch their trees closely and make sure they are well protected, said Scott Powell, production manager at Dutchman Tree Farms in Manton, Mich. The farm is a wholesaler which ships trees directly to its customers.
“For most commercial Christmas tree farmers, we’re under an active integrated pest management plan that’s done very selectively, just to ensure a quality product for our customers,” he told Farms.com.
As with other crops, the weather affects Christmas tree production.
Very warm and dry conditions this summer lead to some seedling failure, said Bob Schaefer, a grower from Salem, Ore., and CEO of Noble Mountain Tree Farm.
“The length of time we went without rain in the summer did impact the survival rate of some of our young seedlings,” he told Farms.com. “We’ll replant them in January, but we experienced a higher than normal level of loss. The trees just didn’t have enough moisture to get them through the warm spell.”
A recent fog event also delayed harvest for trees destined for California, Schaefer said.
“We harvest with helicopters,” he said. “The fog was too thick, so we couldn’t harvest any trees yesterday.
“But, aside from that, our season has been great. The cooler weather in October and November seems to put people in the Christmas spirit a little earlier. Our Thanksgiving weekend sales are up from last year based on some of the data we’ve received.”
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