Each Year, Christmas Tree Growers Face a Unique Problem

Oh yes, here’s that Christmas tree hunting clip again from the movie A Christmas Story.

Haven’t you got a big tree? Christmas only comes once a year. Why not?

If you went hunting for a real Christmas tree after the first week of December this year, you may have had a little trouble finding just the right tree. Some farms and tree lots sold out of trees this year. One reason goes back 12 to 15 years ago, when artificial trees were reducing demand for the real ones and many tree farmers cut back on planting new trees. But then about three years ago, demand for real tree started climbing again. And so here lately many farmers have increased plantings of trees again, which will be ready in about another 10 years. But as the Executive Director of the National Christmas Tree Association, Tim O’Connor says the question is…

Is the plantings now that have been occurring will match demand when those trees are ready?

So in other words, as one choose-and-cut tree grower tells me…

You gotta be forward thinking in the tree business.

Very forward thinking. Jim Gehlsen runs this farm. He owns it in Northern Virginia where we get our trees every year, and he says it is a quandary unique to the tree business.

What’s happening now isn’t the case for eight years out.

He says though, that for the big growers to have cut back plantings 12 years ago, that was as he puts it, kind of short sighted thinking that the real Christmas tree market was going to be permanently shrinking. In fact, Jim Gehlsen thinks just the opposite. He’s going around doing presentations to groups of farmers and would-be farmers telling them look…

Forget about hemp. Plant Christmas trees. It’s here now, you don’t have to get federal regulation, federal permits or anything. It’s good to go. Get some acreage. Plant some trees.

And he even has some numbers to prove his case.

You get trees for 20 cents apiece. Alright, I’m gonna put 5,000 trees out in the spring. That’s 1000 bucks. In 12 years, there’ll be worth a million dollars. What else can you invest in to get a return like that?

Oh, wait a minute, though. That’s 12 years, Jim, with no income, how am I going to keep going without any income?

You know, believe in yourself, man.

But it’s risky now.

But it’s calculated risk. So you’ve got an idea of where your return is, what the odds of return are.

Which is why Jim was not planting hemp.

No, because that’s an unproven market right now. You know, I don’t know if the buy in is out there. So I’m not going there.

But he says Christmas trees are solid commodities with solid demand now.

The future looks good.