There are many factors that affect the cost and return on investment of a Christmas tree farm. These factors include soil type, watering options, and the desired species of trees to be grown. It is important to understand these factors in order to plan for successful operation of the farm. A good budget can help in making informed decisions about how to best use the land. MSU Extension has resources available to help with the budgeting process for tree farms. These resources can be found at the Budgets, Cost of Production and Decision-Making Tools page.
Whether you are planning to grow pines, balsam fir, Fraser fir, or spruce, it is essential to know how many Christmas trees per acre you can expect to produce. This will help you decide how much space to plant on your property. It is also helpful to know the growth rates of each species so you can estimate when your crop will be ready for harvesting.
On average, it takes 6 to 8 years for a Christmas tree to reach maturity on farmland. Most growers stagger the planting and harvesting of their crop to ensure that they have a harvestable tree each year. This helps with their overall profitability by ensuring they will have enough customers each year.
Growing Christmas trees is an attractive option for farmers because of the low labor requirements. However, the initial investment of land preparation is still required to prepare a site for the Christmas tree crop. This may include a field layout, roadway design, and culvert installation for drainage. It is essential to have a well-draining farm to prevent root diseases and other problems from occurring.
In addition, adequate vegetation control is necessary to allow the Christmas tree crop maximum sunlight and water availability. This can be achieved by mowing, herbicide treatment, or a combination of both. The frequency of these control activities varies by location, climate, and rainfall.
Another consideration for a successful Christmas tree farm is proper fertilization. The soil must be tested prior to planting to determine the amount of nutrients that will need to be added. Once the test results are known, fertilizer programs should be adjusted accordingly.
Proper pruning is also important to the success of a Christmas tree crop. Pruning helps the tree develop the full, desirable shape that consumers are looking for. It can be done by shearing or using mechanical shears and trimmers. This is a critical step in the cultivation of Christmas trees and is one of the most time consuming cultural treatments.
A final point that must be considered is the marketing of the Christmas tree crop. A good marketing strategy will increase sales and profits for the grower. This can be accomplished by promoting the trees as a sustainable resource, providing accurate information on the tree’s environmental benefits, and advertising through reputable outlets. It is also important to keep up with new techniques for production and marketing as they become available.