AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to the Texas A&M Forest Service (TAMFS) growers report that freshly cut Christmas trees are in high demand this Christmas season.
According to a TAMFS press release, traditional Christmas trees are selling fast and keeping farmers busy.
“A lot of them will be sold out of the choose-and-cut trees this weekend,” said Stan Reed, Executive Secretary for the Texas Christmas. “Right now, everybody seems to be doing well.”
TAMFS report that Dan Schaefer, who operates Lee County Christmas Trees with his wife, Susan, said traffic at his six-acre tree farm increased 40 percent last year and has been steady so far this holiday season.
“We think this year will be about like last year,” said Schaefer, who expects to sell 250 to 300 trees this season.
Reed said the impact of this year’s drought was concentrated mostly on seedlings. This year’s crop of mature Christmas trees was spared major effects, he said, though some trees might not have reached the usual height.
Schaefer said he raised tree prices by $5 a foot last year, but he didn’t see a need for another increase this year, a trend Reed said is consistent across the industry.
“Prices of pre-cut trees that came from out-of-state probably went up because of transportation costs,” Reed said. “But choose-and-cut trees didn’t go up in price this year.”
According to the release, consumers could expect to see price increases next year because of the rising cost of fertilizer, Reed said.
Fred Raley, Texas A&M Forest Service Tree Improvement Coordinator and Director of the Western Gulf Tree Improvement Program, said the most popular Christmas tree species in Texas is Virginia pine because it grows well throughout the state.
“Afghan pines grow well in Central Texas, and that’s the area from where most of the increased consumer interest has come,” he said.
Raley said the Tree Improvement Program is working to find additional species that grow well across the state to provide consumers with more options when selecting live Christmas trees.
“For many families, there is nothing like choosing your own tree and having the smell and feel of a live Christmas tree,” Raley said. “It’s part of a Rockwellian view of a family Christmas that many people seem to be wanting to continue or recapture.”
According to a Texas A&M Forest Service study, the Christmas tree industry will generate more than $800 million in 2020 and support nearly 7,000 jobs with a $260 million payroll. Reed estimates that the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association will sell 150,000 seedlings for future crops this year, a 20,000 increase over last year. According to him, the association saw the same increase in demand for seedlings the previous year. In the last year, the association’s membership has increased by 30 farms. Robert and Beverly Lee, who was recently shopping for a tree at Schaefer’s property, said they have been customers for many years.
In addition to selecting the perfect tree, a visit to Schaefer’s farm includes hayrides, hot cocoa, family games and holiday-themed photo opportunities.
“The quality is great. They smell good, and I could swear the tree we got last year kept growing even after we got it home,” he said.
“There are places where you can buy a cheaper tree,” Shaefer said, “but you don’t get the holiday experience.”
For a list of Christmas tree farms across the state, visit here.
For information about the benefits of real Christmas trees, visit here.