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Should You Start A Christmas Tree Farm?

One of the surefire signs that Christmas is around the corner is seeing those beautiful green pine trees popping up in every household. If you are thinking about growing some trees of your own, ask yourself these five questions to see if a Christmas tree farm is right for your property.

1.Do You Have The (Right) Land?

With the average Christmas tree farm squeezing in 1,500 Christmas trees per acre, these trees can take up a fair amount of land. If the property you own doesn’t have enough room, you can always sublet land from a neighbor. Since Christmas trees take a long time to grow, make sure to work with a land expert in your area to make sure you get the best deal for this long-term commitment.

Soil type is another factor to take into consideration. While different trees do best in different soil types, well-drained, loamy soils are a good bet for almost every type of Christmas tree. Soil that holds onto water will drown the trees.

2. Do You Have The Time?

Christmas trees are low-maintenance, not no-maintenance. Not much has to be done in the first four years of growth, but after that, the trees do require upkeep. Once the trees start to mature, you’ll want to shape the trees to help them maintain that gorgeous conical shape everyone loves.

3. What Trees Will You Grow?

There are dozens of types of Christmas trees. Which ones will you grow? Here are some of the most popular according to the Farmers’ Almanac.

  • Balsam Fir. This tree is incredibly fragrant and will fill your house with that classic Christmas tree smell.
  • Douglas Fir. The way this tree grows gives it a natural fullness and conical shape.
  • Fraser Fir. People love these trees for the unique silver color underneath the needles.
  • Scotch Pine. Tired of sweeping up needles every day? Scotch pines are famous for not shedding and retaining water after it is cut, making it a great low-maintenance tree.
  • Colorado Blue Spruce. The ice-blue color of these trees makes it popular with people looking to do a little something different this Christmas.

4. Are You Looking For A Crop That Will Turn A Fast Profit?

Certain crops reach maturity quickly and have a high regrowth rate, making them great if you need cash in a pinch. Christmas trees are not one of those crops. From seed to fully-grown tree, the average Christmas tree takes anywhere from eight to ten years to reach maturity. And that’s only if everything goes right. Make sure you can afford to not make money off this specific crop while it matures.

5. Think Beyond the Tree

You can also sell greens, garlands, and wreaths alongside your trees. Holly, poinsettias, and pinecones are also extremely popular with decorators and crafty people. This text is from our 2019 updated Timberland course:

The land can be used for specialty products such as Christmas trees, boughs for holiday wreaths, mushrooms, honey, or maple syrup. Additionally, the land can be used for other wood products, such as saw, firewood, wood chips, decorative wood, greenery, cones, and seeds.

Christmas trees are a staple of the holiday season. We hope this article helped you decide whether or not your land is right to start your own Christmas tree farm.

Whether you are looking for land to grow Christmas trees or any other kind of crop, be sure to always work with a land professional to get the best deal for your hard earned money.

Want to learn about growing trees for profit? Be sure to check out our Timberland course, which will be available to take in 2019!

About the Author: Laura Barker is the Membership and Communications Specialist for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She graduated from Clark University in May 2017 and has been with RLI since October 2017.

How To Make More Money Off Of Your Christmas Tree Farm

It’s that time of year again. With Thanksgiving now behind us, people are in the holiday spirit, which means it is peak Christmas tree season.

However, Christmas trees come with a unique set of complications. It’s a crop that’s only sold once a year, the trees take a lot of money and effort to transport, and use up a ton of land. Christmas trees have one of the smallest time frames for buying and selling of any crop, even though they can take up to eight years to reach maturity.

Despite all of that, Christmas trees are still a lucrative crop and bring in steady holiday money to big and small farms alike. If you’re interested in learning how to make more money off of your Christmas tree land, read on.

  1. Make Low-Cost Adjustments to Get Better Trees

Just like how people will pay more for beautiful flowers or huge, juicy strawberries, you can make more money off of good-looking trees. There are some tricks you can use in the early stages of the tree’s life to increase its value. If you make adjustments in the soil that your trees are growing in to get the right PH balance and moisture level, your trees will be much heathier and better looking. Also, keep up the habit of shaping your Christmas trees. Cutting away at dead and gnarled branches every year helps to give the trees that beautiful conical shape that everyone loves. It might seem tedious, but the results will be worth it.

  1. Grow the Most Popular Types of Trees

Some varieties of Christmas trees sell better than others. The Fraser Fir is the most popular type of Christmas tree because of its wonderful scent and classic Christmas tree look. But some places prefer different types of trees. The Eastern Red Cedar is popular in the South because its natural cone-like shape doesn’t require much maintenance. The White Fir is popular in California for its needle retention. Look up the sales for your region in the last year and invest in the type of tree that is selling best to maximize your profit potential.

  1. Consider Pick Your Own/Cut Your Own

Pick-Your-Own sections have their pros and cons. On the pros side, it’s a great draw for a fun family day out, you can charge more for Pick-Your-Own trees than for regular trees, and people will stay on your property longer, which means they have more time to purchase your produce. However, having people linger on your property can also be a downside. People can wear down your land and cause damage to your crops. If your land is used to lots of visitors, then Pick-Your-Own could be an option for you. If not, consider having your Pick-Your-Own section far enough away from the rest of your crops so that customers don’t damage them. If it’s too late in the season to re-locate your Pick-Your-Own section, invest in plenty of fences and signs to keep people from wandering where they shouldn’t.

  1. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

If you haven’t started advertising yet, you should start as soon as possible. Most people buy their Christmas tree shortly after Thanksgiving, so you want to get the word out about your trees soon. And with people shopping for Thanksgiving and getting a head-start on their Christmas shopping, this is the perfect time to invest in a billboard ad. Since there is a time frame around how long you can sell trees and how long people will want to buy them, you’ll want to use this time to get the word out to as many people in your area as possible. Get creative! Use flyers, radio ads, newspaper ads, whatever you can think of.

  1. Don’t Cut Down All Your Trees at Once

Even though they are famous for their ability to withstand droughts, Christmas trees dry out after being cut down faster than you’d think. The trees start to lose moisture as soon as they are chopped down. Dehydrated or dying Christmas trees lose their needles and turn brown, which can turn potential buyers away from your property. So, instead of having lots of pre-cut trees out for display, only have a few trees on display and replace them as they are bought. A great way of keeping track of when to cut down trees is by taking pre-orders. This way, you can cut down the tree the day the buyer gets there instead of leaving it out to dry.

  1. Market What Makes Your Trees Unique

What makes your tree lot stand out from everyone else’s? Are your trees organic? A popular or unique type of pine tree? Is it a family-run ranch? Pick-Your-Own? Each of these is a great selling point for your advertisements. Also, if your trees have been grown with specific traits (needle retention, doesn’t need much upkeep, beautiful smell, extra-large, etc.), be sure to mention those, too.

  1. Give Your Trees the Spotlight on Social Media

Does your farmland have a website, blog, Facebook page, or Instagram? Put up some pictures of your best Christmas trees. This is an easy, free way to show off your produce. You can also put up pictures of the trees growing and the harvesting process so that potential buyers can get an insight into how the trees are taken care of (for more about immersive online farm tours, check out this article). If you’re looking for inspiration, check out websites like Texas Christmas Tree Farms and Peltzer Pines Christmas Tree Farm.

  1. Have Other Goodies Out to Buy

When people come to your farm, it’s the perfect time to show off your produce. You can sell home baked goodies (gingerbread is a holiday favorite!), hot chocolate or cider, winter crops, holly, and mistletoe. But why stop at produce? People love to buy unique gifts for their loved ones during the holidays, so consider selling things like homemade jewelry, baked goods, wood carvings, and more next to your Christmas .

Christmas trees can be a tricky crop, but with plenty of preparation and a marketing plan, you can make more money off of your Christmas tree farm.