Virginia Christmas tree growers deliver on this year’s harvest

christmas-treeIt’s not quite Thanksgiving, but the Christmas tree harvest is in full swing and Virginia growers are experiencing a good one.

The state’s Christmas tree industry includes thousands of growers, according to the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association. It is estimated that they have more than 7 million trees planted.

VCTGA Vice President John Carroll grows several varieties of Christmas trees at Claybrooke Christmas Tree Farm, a choose-and-cut operation in Louisa County. “The crop is good this year,” Carroll said. “Most choose-and-cut growers are selling most of their inventory every year, and this year won’t be any exception. Seventy-five percent of sales are derived from the experience of finding the perfect tree in the field.”

Most growers are sensitive to keeping their product affordable.

“There will most likely be a modest increase in tree prices this season to help recoup some of the recent increases in production costs,” Carroll said.

Rodney Richardson of Mt. Rogers Tree Farm in Grayson County is in the midst of harvesting trees from nearly 200 acres on which he grows Frasier firs for wholesale and retail sales.

“This is one of the driest seasons I can remember,” Richardson said. “But our trees look good, and this year’s yield is about the same as last year.”

The majority of trees being harvested and sold this season are large, mature trees, so while the dry weather is a concern, Richardson said it shouldn’t have a big impact on his harvest.

The growers’ association suggests using a tree stand that will hold a gallon or more of water. A fresh tree can absorb 3 or more quarts a day for the first few days after it is placed in water.

“It’s ideal to buy the tree early and put it in a bucket of water,” Richardson said.

Carroll said consumers are in for “a great year to find the perfect Christmas tree. We are fortunate to have a wide range of species in Virginia that are available for cutting at farms or purchased fresh-cut at local retail outlets. Purchasing a real tree supports local agriculture.”

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