While Christmas may seem far away for many as they are still trying to hold onto what is left of that summer weather, Christmas tree farmers are already working diligently to prepare for the holiday.
Greg Hann of Hann’s Christmas Farm in Oregon, shares more on what growers are doing to prepare, how the season is going, and inspections they need to pass.
Christmas tree farmers go through inspections, similar to other farms. They are checked for any pests that could spread from state to state. Farms who ship to other states are inspected yearly while those keeping their crop in state have a three year window of inspection.
Hann said that in the spring growers are doing a lot of scouting. The Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producer Association, has biannual meetings where they talk about pests and other things found during scouting. They are very vigilant in making sure they aren’t killing the good bugs and using smart practices when applying pesticides.
Christmas trees don’t just grow in a few months as typical other crops do. It can take six to eight years for a tree to be ready to harvest.
“That’s one of the things that we really like to educate people on- that this crop takes many years to grow,” says Hann. “You could see a drought year and think the trees are going to be affected by it. But the trees that are being harvested are eight years old this year, so they’re well established.”
Irrigation is a must for Christmas tree farmers as most of them are doing some kind of irrigation, especially in that first, second and third year of growing. Growers also are supplementing nutrition in the field by putting nitrogen or other nutrition onto the trees.
While supply chain issues may be affecting other agribusinesses, the Christmas tree industry has been having no problem. Their problem stems however from large inflation costs on herbicides and pesticides. Glyphosate has gone up almost three times in just this one year.
Hann says, “We’re always trying to educate the younger kids on the benefits of having a real tree versus artificial. We are a specialty crop with the USDA, and that specialty crop is we’re planting trees every year.”
Most of the farms are planting two trees to every tree that they harvest. Real tree production is on an upswing. Hann along with the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association work to educate youth about how the crop is grown and how it can be a potential career for them.
While Christmas is in December, the growers start planting trees in April. Throughout the summer they are irrigating, mowing, and monitoring for pests. Once Fall hits, they begin shaping the trees and helping to create the perfect point for the angels or stars on the top and selecting which trees they will harvest.
Over the past few years there has been a high demand for live trees. Hann says that with that demand, growers encourage consumers to plan on shopping a little earlier than they would normally in order to get the best quality tree that they desire. He says that there are plenty of trees out there, but it just might take you a little bit longer to find somebody that’s still open as the season goes on.