1. What Is a Christmas Tree Farm?
2. Getting Started

What Is a Christmas Tree Farm?

If you'd like to know how to start a Christmas tree farm, you'll need to understand the importance of this type of business. People around the country buy Christmas trees as part of their celebration for the holidays. Artificial trees are popular, but they can't compare with a real tree in terms of ambience, unique appearance, and fresh scent. Larger Christmas tree farms take care of much of the demand for these trees. However, a smaller farm can fulfill the demand in local areas.

When you have acres of land and you want to grow a profitable crop, think about the option to grow Christmas trees. Christmas trees can provide a steady income. Moreover, they don't require a lot of time as the crop is low-maintenance, making it ideal for a project in your spare time.

To maintain the steady income from Christmas trees, you will need to plant a portion of your farm with new trees. Christmas trees become mature in about eight years, at which point you can harvest and replant. Along with making additional income from your crops, planting Christmas trees can provide habitats for wildlife, benefit the environment, and provide erosion control. A Christmas tree farm is an environmentally friendly business that is a win-win for your income as well as the planet.

When you grow Christmas trees, you can be part of something more meaningful and bigger than when you grow other crops. When people celebrate Christmas, they focus on traditions, including spending time together and creating favorite foods to make memories. One of the common traditions among families is choosing, cutting down, and decorating a fresh Christmas tree. This tradition helps to enhance the home for weeks in December.

Offering this special gift from your farm can become the centerpiece for the traditions of a family as they celebrate Christmas. Gregory Bartels has over four decades of experience in the Christmas tree farm business and is known as “The Christmas Tree Man.” He shares some of his tips for those thinking about starting their own farms as a way to turn a profit and have some fun.

Getting Started

To establish a profitable and successful farm, the first step is:

  • Planning the crops
  • Creating the planting schedule

Before you start planting, perform a thorough analysis of the soil to make sure the pH is properly balanced and there are enough nutrients. It is much easier to add nutrients or adjust the soil pH before planting trees.

Christmas tree experts recommend testing the soil at least once every three years. The results of the test will include recommendations for fertilizing the soil, although you can choose which type to use at your farm. Plant Christmas trees during the spring season, either with a planter attachment on your tractor or by hand. Before you plant, as well as during the planting process, make sure to provide proper care for the seedlings.

You can choose between two kinds of stock:

  • Plugs: grown in tall, narrow containers. They arrive in the containers with soil packs. Plugs are more expensive, but you can typically plant them later in the season.
  • Bare root: grown in fields and arrive without any soil. They're dipped in hydrogel and packed in materials that hold in the moisture.

Proper seedling care includes keeping the roots moist and planting them at the right depth. The top of the roots should sit just below the ground's surface. The roots should point downward into the planting hole and not be broken or bent.

As the temperature outside starts to get colder, you can start harvesting the trees. When the trees become stressed because of drought conditions, they will lose their needles quickly, while healthier trees hold on to the needles. When you harvest the trees during the winter, refill the space in your acreage with seedlings during the spring.

Avoid planting new seedlings on the old stumps. Instead, offset slightly so the roots can penetrate easily into the soil. When you harvest blocks of trees, it may make sense to wait to plant new seedlings for several years. This allows the soil to replenish its nutrients and the stumps to rot.

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