Real Christmas tree growers anticipate a busy 2014 sales season, especially with the public’s interest in purchasing environmentally-friendly products. Real Christmas trees are renewable, recyclable, release less carbon than artificial trees and provide valuable family memories, according to Daniel Cassens, Professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University and member of the National Christmas Tree Association.
The total sales season is only about four weeks long, running from the day after Thanksgiving to just before Christmas. In the United States, over $1 billion in real trees will be sold. The vast majority of trees are sold Thanksgiving weekend and the first two weeks of December. Given that weather can also play a major role, producers make preparations for the sales season well ahead of time.
Christmas trees are available from three distinct types of sources in Indiana. Choose-and-Cut operations are usually the best option if the customer is looking for a locally produced tree. At these locations, the family walks or rides together out into the field to select their choice from hundreds of trees, creating memories and a family experience which will last a lifetime. The tree is brought back to the sales barn. Many locations will shake out any loose needles from previous years and wrap the tree for easy handling and to prevent breakage. Or many growers cut trees just as needed and place them in a sales barn for the customer to select from. This option is particularly popular when the weather becomes inclement.
Choose-and-Cut growers are now busy grooming the fields to make walking and tree selection easier, grading and pricing trees and preparing the sales barn for efficient operations. Many farms will also have a gift shop which needs stocking. Wreath and garland making from Indiana-produced greens starts just as the first customers arrive.
Retail lots are another common method of selling Christmas trees. Many year-round retail merchants will order and sell Christmas trees during the holiday season. Some retail lots are set up just for the holiday season. Many of these lots are fundraisers for nonprofit groups such as the Boy Scouts, Optimist Club, Kiwanis Club and others. Some growers will also establish retail lots at locations other than where the trees are grown. The trees may be produced in Indiana or brought in from other states. Bringing trees from other states can allow the lot to offer a wider variety of species.
Large growers normally wholesale trees to retail lots and even other growers. Wholesale growers are normally large, efficiently run operations capable of selling thousands of trees. The trees are graded in the field and harvested in November just in time for delivery or pickup at Thanksgiving time. Some large customers will schedule a second purchase during the first week of December. This helps to ensure tree freshness.
This year, create family memories by purchasing a real tree. Make plans now on when and how you will obtain your real Indiana-grown Christmas tree this year.
For more information about Christmas trees or to locate a choose-and-cut tree farm near you, please visit the National Christmas Tree Association.
A Choose-and-Cut Pine and Fir Christmas Tree Case Study, The Education Store
Selecting an Indiana-Grown Christmas Tree, The Education Store
Tips for First-Time Buyers of Real Christmas Trees, The Education Store
Daniel Cassens, Professor of Wood Products
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources