Nationally, Americans will buy about 32 million natural Christmas trees this year and one-quarter of those will come from choose and cut farms.
This past weekend was opening day for most California choose and cut Christmas tree farms.
At the Twain Harte Tree Farm on North Tuolumne Road, owners Don and Peggy Moore said business was booming the day after Thanksgiving.
“It was a banner day,” Peggy said. “We probably sold more trees than we’ve sold ever on the first day.” After that, she said, business starts to slow a bit.
“Most people who know what they want come out and get their trees early. The rest of our customers kind of take their time,” she said.
The Moore´s have run the Twain Harte Tree Farm for 30 years. Don actually grew-up on the farm.
Peggy says it´s not a career to get rich with. “Fortunately, we don´t depend on the farm to support ourselves, because you couldn’t live on what you make with the Christmas trees,” she said. “You make enough to put right back on the farm, paint the buildings and that kind of stuff.”
The Moore´s expect to sell nearly 650-to-700 trees this holiday season.
The time it takes for a tree to grow – from a seedling to Christmas tree headed home on the top of a SUV – varies, Moore said, depending on the variety.
A fir grows slowest, taking about 10 years to get to the proper 7-to-8 foot-height. The faster growing trees, such as the redwood, take about 6 years to mature to proper dimensions.
“That’s why the fir tree are more expensive,” Moore explained. “They just take longer and take more care.”
Moore says its a toss-up which is the most popular tree, White fir or the Douglas fir.
Christmas tree farms in California received a clean bill of health this fall from state inspectors looking for sudden oak death carriers.
Scientists announced last summer that Douglas fir trees are susceptible to the deadly pathogen. Locally, Moore says it was a good growing year.
“This year wasn’t too bad,” she said. “It wasn’t an intensely hot year, so it seemed like we had enough water. The trees seemed to do quite well this year.”