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Daniel Weeber
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Hello,

We recently purchased our home, and it came with roughly 1000 Christmas Trees. We just held our first weekend of "choose and cut." We sold our trees for $35 + $3/foot after the first 8 feet. Our next door neighbors also have Christmas Trees, and we worked together this weekend. Collectively, we sold roughly 75 trees (including one giant 18 footer). Between our two properties, we have about 500 feet of road frontage on a frequently traveled two lane road. Except for three signs on the road, we did zero marketing; however, the neighbors have been selling trees for about 15 years, and there were many repeat customers.

One thing I was surprised about was how nice and happy the customers were! It was a very pleasant experience. I would not recommend a choose and cut farm for unsociable permies.

While our main source of income is my work from home job, the Christmas Trees are a nice bonus! My initial take on the trees is that they would not be lucrative enough to base an entire income off of, but it could be a good component to a homestead income. The revenue comes during the winter, and the trees really do take minimal care. (We trimmed them this summer, and we mowed the grass once or twice a month all year. The deer don't eat the trees, but they like to fight them.)

Many of our customers commented on how they prefer our trees, because we do not coppice to produce two trees at once. We do coppice, but we only grow one tree. Our trees are spaced 48" apart, and we have not had a problem with disease. We currently grow grass around the trees, and at some point I want to switch that to clover (and/or plant some nitrogen fixing trees).

Regarding too many large trees: If you have many trees that will grow past your preferred height, cut them and donate them to a church or trees for troops. You will get a small tax benefit, and you can grow another tree from that healthy stump.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

(I had meant this post to be a reply to another Christmas Tree Farm thread, but clearly I am more technology illiterate than I thought. If you could merge it at some point, I would be grateful).
 
Kevin Lakey
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Daniel,
I have a few questions. What zone are you located? What's your annual rainfall? What species do you grow? We are considering a cut your own Christmas tree business but were told it is a lot of work per dollar earned. The people recommended Austrian pines that grow fast, but need a lot of pruning. We are zone 5 in the desert of south central Idaho. We have canal irrigation available. Any suggestions? Thanks for the post.

Kevin Lakey
 
Daniel Weeber
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Hi Kevin,

We are located in Placerville, CA. Here is a link to our average weather history: http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/95667

We get roughly 35 - 40 inches of rainfall per year (we have to irrigate a bit in the summer when rainfall is minimal). We grow Douglas Fir, Nordmann Fir, and Redwood. The neighbors grow the same species, with some White Fir and Blue Spruce.

So far, the work for us has been minimal; however, the prior homeowners did the hard part of establishing the trees for us. I would recommend avoiding trees that require intensive pruning, and I would suggest a tree choice that lets nature do the work for you. I would also suggest that you plant several different species, because people seem to be very set on buying certain species (this even included the redwoods). Most people bought our Douglas Firs. Regarding redwoods, they are a pain to take care of, because they have nasty thorns and stiff needles. It should be noted that I do not have any prior experience in generating income from land and that when I say "minimal," I am just thinking it was not very burdensome to my lifestyle. There could be better options to generate income for you and your land.

Prior to jumping into a Christmas Tree Farm, I would definitely consider the location of my land (you might need intensive marketing if you don't have good road frontage), and I would consider the number of customers I could expect to get given the population of my area. I think that customers also get a certain thrill from hunting for the perfect tree, so I would shoot for 2+ acres of planted trees at the very least.

Daniel








 
Kevin Lakey
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Daniel,
Thanks for the reply. That helps a bunch!
Kevin Lakey
 
Daniel Weeber
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Christmas Tree season is about to start once again (the day after Thanksgiving). This year, I mowed the grass/clover 4 times in between the trees and I removed a few stumps. This took me about 14 hours total. I believe its pretty important to select the right ground cover mix for the trees, because it could help with fertilization. My ground cover could use some work, but I also didn't use any fertilizer this year.

I did not "shape" the trees, which would have taken much more time. I personally think that this only needs done every other year. I'm planning to spend about another 16 hours over the next week mowing the ground cover again and cleaning up the yard / trees. I will likely spend a significant amount of time helping customers though. I'd still recommend this to anyone that is looking for a winter income. The customers are thrilled when they visit, and it's really a pleasure to have such a fun customer base.

For next year, I've been bouncing around the idea of planting pumpkins in between the trees and raising heritage turkeys to create more of a "holiday" location. (The turkeys would be for sale for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and the pumpkins would be for Halloween and pies). My concern is that the pumpkins will climb the trees and break some of the limbs. However, expanding like this could produce income for October, November, and December.

I've seen other value added activities, such as corn mazes, pumpkin cannons, pony rides, santa pictures, etc, but I don't really like the idea of creating an amusement park.

 
                    
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Daniel Weeber wrote:Christmas Tree season is about to start once again (the day after Thanksgiving). This year, I mowed the grass/clover 4 times in between the trees and I removed a few stumps. This took me about 14 hours total. I believe its pretty important to select the right ground cover mix for the trees, because it could help with fertilization. My ground cover could use some work, but I also didn't use any fertilizer this year.

I did not "shape" the trees, which would have taken much more time. I personally think that this only needs done every other year. I'm planning to spend about another 16 hours over the next week mowing the ground cover again and cleaning up the yard / trees. I will likely spend a significant amount of time helping customers though. I'd still recommend this to anyone that is looking for a winter income. The customers are thrilled when they visit, and it's really a pleasure to have such a fun customer base.

For next year, I've been bouncing around the idea of planting pumpkins in between the trees and raising heritage turkeys to create more of a "holiday" location. (The turkeys would be for sale for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and the pumpkins would be for Halloween and pies). My concern is that the pumpkins will climb the trees and break some of the limbs. However, expanding like this could produce income for October, November, and December.

I've seen other value added activities, such as corn mazes, pumpkin cannons, pony rides, santa pictures, etc, but I don't really like the idea of creating an amusement park.





I think that the pumpkins could be a problem. My father grew watermelons in between apple trees and they climbed up the trunk & all over the orchard. It was hard to tend to the trees.

You can make candles and sell them. Set up an online candle business and ship the candles all over USA. Good year round income.
 
Dave Hunt
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I like your ideas. My wife wants to start raising some meat chickens next year (we have layers now) she also suggested raising a few turkeys (naming them Thanksgiving and Christmas her joke not mine). You said you have about 1000 trees? How many acres do you have planted with trees? How long did it take from planting to harvest? Do you have any good bulk sources for seedlings? I was thinking about planting a few trees (50) on my property for Christmas trees. It would be pretty neat to make a tradition of taking my boys (20 months and newborn) out to cut down our Christmas tree every year.
 
Daniel Weeber
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We have the 1000 trees on one acre. It takes about 7 years to get to first harvest.

For best results, you should buy trees from a nursery that is at an elevation similar to your home.

It does sound like a great tradition! I think you'll both really enjoy it.
 
M Grace
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What size of tree are you planting initially?
 
Allen Herod
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Dave Hunt wrote:I like your ideas. My wife wants to start raising some meat chickens next year (we have layers now) she also suggested raising a few turkeys (naming them Thanksgiving and Christmas her joke not mine). You said you have about 1000 trees? How many acres do you have planted with trees? How long did it take from planting to harvest? Do you have any good bulk sources for seedlings? I was thinking about planting a few trees (50) on my property for Christmas trees. It would be pretty neat to make a tradition of taking my boys (20 months and newborn) out to cut down our Christmas tree every year.


The turkey names gave me a good laugh.... I really want some donkey's, I've already picked their names. Bad, Sweet, Stinky and if I could ever get a poitou donkey, his name would be Hairy. The Ass family, some of them even have middle names Sorry to get off subject.
 
Creighton Samuiels
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I'm considering a Christmas tree plantation for the front acre of my property, and wanted to know what kind of plants would be ideal for interplanting between the trees.
 
Tom Kozak
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Location: Sudbury ON, Canada
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Whenever I went to cut a christmas tree I always tried to cut within a few inches of the ground and bellow the bottom branches. How do you manage to copice a tree off that short a stump with no branches?
 
Creighton Samuiels
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Evergreen trees don't really coppice, because in order to regenerate from a living root, a tree has to have a dormant stage. Which is why most species of deciduous trees will coppice to some degree of success or another if cut in winter, but will likely die if cut in summertime. There are a lot of variables, but one should assume that once a Christmas tree is cut and sold, another seedling will have to be planted near the stump or the stump pulled up. It's unlikely to regenerate. The size of the stump really wouldn't have anything to do with it.
 
Jayden Thompson
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Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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Just a thought... Can you set up any sort of "upsells" with the Christmas trees? I know when we went as kids, there was a little cabin where we paid for the trees, and in there they had all kinds of other things to buy. From cheesy Santa decorations, to candles, to fresh wreathes (from trimming the trees, I assume), and lots of other stuff.

I know a lot of pumpkin patches turn there visits into entire day adventures with hayrides, corn mazes, and such. Seems like there's an opportunity to do the same thing with your christmas tree farm.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Dean Moriarty wrote:Just a thought... Can you set up any sort of "upsells" with the Christmas trees? I know when we went as kids, there was a little cabin where we paid for the trees, and in there they had all kinds of other things to buy. From cheesy Santa decorations, to candles, to fresh wreathes (from trimming the trees, I assume), and lots of other stuff.

I know a lot of pumpkin patches turn there visits into entire day adventures with hayrides, corn mazes, and such. Seems like there's an opportunity to do the same thing with your christmas tree farm.


Hot spiced cider!
 
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