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Old 11-28-2021, 10:13 AM   #1
andre3k
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Has anyone grown and sold Christmas trees? I have a few acres in Newton county and was considering planting Virginia Pines, which do well in east Texas. How do you market the trees to sellers once they are full grown?

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Old 11-28-2021, 10:19 AM   #2
Ętheling
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Following. I have no interest in selling but would like to plant a small section off them and rotate plantings to have our own trees every year.
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Old 11-28-2021, 11:34 AM   #3
McClain
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I did many years ago when Virginia Pines were just becoming popular in east Texas. Its a LOT of work. Have to prune several times a year, treat for the pine tip moth, keep field mowed, spray coloring just before marketing. There is a lot of competition now with very little profit in the wholesale business. Retail is obviously more profitable if you are in a good market area but a lot of work there as well and you have to deal with all sorts of folks. Also, a certain percentage of your trees will not be marketable no matter what you do so there is some waste. If you are seriously interested, the first thing you should do is talk to your County Ag Agent and if possible, several growers.
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Old 11-28-2021, 12:47 PM   #4
Gumbo Man
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I knew a man in Crocket years ago that had trees that were sold in the field only. You would go out to the farm during certain days and hours and he would give you a long cane pole with a flag on the end. You would walk down the rows until you found the tree that you wanted and start waving the flag in the air. He would then come with tractor and trailer and cut the tree and then take it up front. He had a shaker and bagger. The shaker would shake all of the loose needles out of the tree. Then it was pulled through a roll of netting that held it tightly together for transport. Not sure how profitable it was but it was extra income and an awesome experience for families that would not normally have access to woods to cut their own. And the kids loved waiving that flag in the air. Good luck sir
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Old 11-28-2021, 04:28 PM   #5
andre3k
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My place is two hours from the house so selling retail is probably out of the question. I wouldn't mind growing a few hundred to sell wholesale if it was worth it.
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Old 11-28-2021, 05:38 PM   #6
McClain
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Not saying you can’t make money with a few hundred trees, but like most ag commodities there is an economy of scale factor with Christmas trees also. I would highly recommend looking into wholesale marketing opportunities before jumping in.
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Old 11-29-2021, 07:40 AM   #7
wytex
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Pruned Christmas trees in college as a part time job on one of my professor's tree farms. He made decent money and most folks came out to cut their own trees.
It was west of Nac.
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Old 11-29-2021, 12:23 PM   #8
Smeone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wytex View Post
Pruned Christmas trees in college as a part time job on one of my professor's tree farms. He made decent money and most folks came out to cut their own trees.
It was west of Nac.
Dr. Gerald Lowry?

I took a tree farming class from him it was excellent sadly I have never had the time to get a farm going since then, but with what I learned from him I feel I could and be successful

it it was in the very early 90s that you worked for him we probably met

one of the best things with him is there was the "Christmas Tree Farm" next to his that he helped start and then the owners basically ran it into a worthless pulpwood farm

it gave you a great contrast between a properly managed farm and one that was junk and failing

just googling him I am sad to see he passed away in Jan of this year

here is what I will say in short

1. you have to shear 4 times a year generally at specific times....a small farm will use knives and Dr. Lowry taught the "ear slice" method where you stand at the tree if you are right handed you have your left foot towards the tree and right food well back, raise the knife to your left ear and swipe down in one swipe as your right arm would normally fall

this will give you the proper shape......you need to wear chaps, keep the knife sharp, have turpentine to clean the pitch off the knife and make a slow steady motion

yes I know there are youtube videos of a guy on shorts going all "ninja" with both hands shearing trees and he actually does a very good job, but you will make worthless junk trying that when new

you never cut the central leader or you will screw up the tree and ruin the shape especially when young.....you can trim it up when harvesting for sale, but make sure it is sold and harvested

some small operations use a saje machine.....these still take skill to make a nice tree and are temperamental

there are bobcat mounted machines for larger operations

2. you grade your own trees for wholesale and you need to grade harsh on yourself.....there are #1, #2, #3 and culls......culls and #3 are basically worthless and #2 are the most common you will get and #1 are a lot harder to produce especially when new

3. "choose and cut" (direct to public) with all the associated hot chocolate, pumpkins, produce, entertainment and anything else you can sell is where a small operation will make money

I would imagine you could do well enough if you had a retail location in town like you owned a hardware store, restaurant (with space in the lot), mechanic shop, ect where you could set up your sales lot and have your kids or family sell the trees retail

if you live in the panhandle area I would imagine that Texas grown Blue Spruce would make money once you established the connections to wholesale to, but I cannot guarantee they would sell.....but they grow there, have the natural shape, would fully differentiate you from the competition, and look amazing

4. it will take about 4 years to produce a salable tree (Pine) with proper irrigation or rainfall 5 with lesser rainfall

5. issues on tree grades....."shoulders" where people have hacked at a tree and up near the top it looks like the tree has shoulders

"windows".......thin areas where you see through the tree from lack of shearing or improper shearing when young, tip moth issues (timely shearing controls this and perhaps some spray)

"bad skirts" you want a level skirt parallel with the ground, free of weeds, not thin, and less shaped in an upwards cone......most retail buyers will not notice this issue as much, but wholesale will

it takes effort to get a nice skirt and weed and grass control and not running a mower or trimmer into the tree especially when young

6. with choose and cut you need crowd control to keep people from going into areas that are not open for harvest

7. you will need a tree netter to wrap them and decrease the size especially for wholesale sales

8. Carolina Sapphire is a newer tree for parts of central and eastern Texas with acidic soils I would imagine the care and growing of them would be similar to a Blue Spruce in west Texas

9. you will need a quality supplier of seedling trees in the past the Indian Mound TAMU nursery could supply the for a good cost, but it is closed and the Lubbock (Idalou) is a long way to go for trees and I am not sure they have Virginia Pine any longer

overall on a small scale you will need a lot of other stuff to make it work and selling direct to public (choose and cut) unless you can produce a really high quality tree and even then you will be putting in a lot of work and it will take a lot of time to develop the connections to wholesale to......or if you can find the wholesale buyers and determine of they want and you and produce a Carolina Sapphire of high quality and sell at a good price
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Old 11-29-2021, 07:49 AM   #9
camoclad
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Grow grapes. Sell wine
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Old 11-29-2021, 01:08 PM   #10
2B4Him
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We were in the Christmas tree business for several years and I would say this:
1. The only way to make it worthwhile in Texas is to sell 'choose and cut'. You are selling an 'experience', not a tree. We provided hay wagon rides to the trees, saws for customers to use, picnic areas, treasure hunt trails through the woods, etc.
2. We were in Lindale - Our customer base was from Dallas - a 2 hour drive. Peoples' schedules are so busy today, that a rainy Saturday/Sunday means they will NOT come to the farm - they can't reschedule. So, you NEED a large metropolitan area to draw from within a couple of hours.
3. Virginia pine are the best suited trees for Texas. They grow about 12-18" per year, so you have to plan on 5-6 years of no income before you can sell the first one. They have to be trimmed twice a year (about Memorial Day and Labor Day). Must keep weeds down. Must 'paint' in Fall before selling (they turn a little yellowish-green in Fall).
4. Virginia pine looks a lot like Scotch pine. Neither of which, IMO, are the best looking Christmas trees. So, it is difficult to sell them wholesale to places that have access to better-looking (i.e., Douglas fir, Noble fir, etc.) trees.
5. The 'real' Christmas tree business has been losing market share (to fakes) every year. Probably not going to change any time soon.
6. We have friends that incorporated barns, etc. to make their Christmas tree farm an 'event' venue (weddings, parties, etc.). THAT is where they ended up making their money. But, again, you have to have access to a metropolitan area population.
7. There was (and may still be) a Texas Christmas Tree Growers Assn and a National Christmas Tree Growers Assn. Both could be good sources of info. for you.
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Old 11-29-2021, 01:22 PM   #11
wytex
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Smeone it was Dr Lowry's farm. Great guy to work for.
I was earlier than you, mid 80's when I worked for him, graduated in 87.
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Old 11-29-2021, 07:10 PM   #12
Smeone
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something 2B4Him mentioned

the painting of the trees......you need a sprayer for "super greenzit" which you spray to give the the lush green color.....you need to time this properly so the color looks good and it has time to set up and "hold fast" so that your buyers are not getting green all over themselves, their car, and their house

it will get everything green when you spray, but it will make an ok tree look better and a good looking tree look great
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Old 11-29-2021, 07:19 PM   #13
Barrett
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I know how to grow Christmas trees in Ohio, but not Texas. On the farm now for a couple more weeks. It a ton of fun, yet a lot of work, in my opinion.
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Old 11-29-2021, 08:49 PM   #14
andre3k
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Lots of good info, I appreciate the replies. I think a retail operation is out of the question for now. We went to a tree farm in Spring and it looked like there were doing good with it. But they were offering the "complete" Christmas experience, no just cutting down your own tree. I just don't have the time or resources to dedicate to a retail operation.
Maybe I should try hemp.

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