Want to have a good and steady income from your small piece of land? The Christmas tree farm is your ideal option. It is a hassle-free crop, the cost of maintenance is also low and above all the return is quite good. If you plant new trees in a portion of your land every year, you will get profits each year. The full-grown sellable Christmas tree takes 8 years on an average to mature. So, planting trees every year will be profitable.
Also Check: How to Start a Profitable Tree Farm Business
Now, let us come to the measurements. Maintaining the standard 5’x5’ distance between trees, leaving the space for loading and access, you can plant 1500 trees per acre. So, if you divide your plot into 7 parts, you can plant approximately 200 plants every year. If you have more land, then you have to divide accordingly. Just remember that the tree needs roughly 7 years to mature. So, divide your plot into 7 parts.
Read: Profitable Agriculture Business Ideas
Unlike other crops like vegetables, Christmas trees don’t require regular caring. For the first four years, it does not require much except for the yearly pruning. After that, you have to clean the weeds and prune them into shapes. However, you have to arrange for proper irrigation as well as pest control.
10 Steps to Start A Christmas Tree Farm
1. Planning your Business
Before starting off, you should have thorough planning of all the aspects of your Christmas tree farm. It includes the detailed analysis of the land type (if you don’t own land, you can buy or take it on lease), trees to be planted, the legalization of your business, opening bank account, accounting procedure, empanelment for taxes, getting the right insurance for crops and employees.
The most important part of business planning includes market research of your target client and the marketing and publicity of your Christmas tree farm.
2. Land Preparation
Preparing the land is very important for your Christmas tree farm. Apart from leaving the space of 5’x5’, you have to arrange for extra space for storing the cut trees, parking space, if you invite visitors to cut their own tree and of course, space for access of the trees to prune them.
The soil should be three to four feet deep along with good drainage. The soil should be cleared very well and you can use machinery like tractors to prepare the land.
3. Christmas Tree Equipment
Growing Christmas trees will not require much equipment. Lawnmowers play a vital role in keeping the land clean from weeds. However, you will be in need of much equipment while harvesting trees. Types of machinery like chainsaws, handsaws, tree shakers, tree diggers, and a net to wrap the cut wood for shipping.
In addition, you will need a truck or a trailer for carrying and transporting the wood.
4. Select the Right Type of Christmas Tree
The most popular types of Christmas trees are Douglas fir, Balsam Fir and Scotch pine. Douglas fir is the most popular Christmas tree in the northwestern part of the US. It is best grown in the mild climate and well-drained soil. It has a natural cone shape, so, ideal as a Christmas tree.
The Balsam fir is extensively grown in the eastern US. It also has a natural cone shape. Scotch pine grows in a variety of soils and its growth is fast. It can withstand droughts but, it needs pruning for the desired cone shape.
5. Planting the Christmas Tree
You can plant seeds of your desired tree. Or you can go for seedlings or transplants, which are grown on a bed. Normally, local wholesalers sell these and the price of seedling or transplant is a bit higher, but they can be harvested a couple of years earlier than the trees growing from seeds. For planting also, you can use proper machinery.
6. How to Reach the Market
The main motto of your Christmas tree farm is, obviously selling the trees. Firstly, you can invite the buyers to your farm, so that they can choose and cut the trees themselves. This is a good option if you have a small plot with a limited number of trees. But if your plot is big with a lot of trees, it is not possible to sell to individual buyers.
Then you have to sell them to the wholesalers. However, U Cut tree farms where customers come and cut trees of their own always fetch a good price. For bulk selling, you can also contact the Non-Profits or other big organizations that are always ready to pay more and purchase in great numbers.
For publicity, you have to use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to reach more people. It will be all the better if you can create your own website and arrange for online sales.
7. Offer Something More
Many Christmas tree farmers make garlands and wreaths from the branches of trees and sell them at high prices.
Another idea is to grow holly along with the Christmas tree. These shrubs have beautiful red berries and these branches are a common item in the Christmas celebration. And in this case, only the branches not the full plant are needed. This can be a good value addition to your Christmas tree farm. But remember one thing. If you have livestock on your farm, holly is toxic for them.
For more revenue, you can add some more products to your farm like pumpkins. If you sell pumpkins around Halloween, people get to know more about your farm which will attract them during Christmas for buying trees.
8. The Seasonal Break-Up
The Christmas tree farm is a highly seasonal business. If you miss the season, our product goes obsolete. So the farming practice is also divided season-wise. Soil preparation and planting trees are done during spring. Later part of spring and early summers are used for cutting and pruning.
During full summer, the spaces between the rows of trees are mowed and weed control measures are applied. Late fall and winters are for harvesting and selling. The season is preferably between thanksgiving and Christmas.
9. Qualities and Conditions Required
The first and foremost quality of a Christmas tree farmer is patience, as the tree takes a long time to grow. If you are not experienced, you have to go through some training or attend local agricultural classes to gather knowledge. Try and know the local market as your product will be sold locally only. Cutting trees and transporting them to other places will incur more costs.
10. Evaluate the Cost & Profit Returns
Now let us examine the price of Christmas trees. As per the American Christmas Tree Association, the average price of a tree at a u-cut lot was $74 in 2017. This year, the average price is $81 and likely to increase. If we consider 200 ready to harvest trees per acre, you can calculate the earnings.
Bigger plots have more trees, more labor cost, but along with it, more returns. Moreover, growing Christmas trees will enjoy certain tax benefits. Be well versed in the tax structure.
Like all other businesses, the Christmas tree business also requires profit for its sustainability. If you don’t own the land, you have to buy, take on rent or lease. The price of seedling varies from 0.65$ to 1 $. Then comes the cost of machinery like tractors, backpack sprayer, shearing knife, planting shovel, and hand pruner.
Along with it, comes the cost of labor. If you have a small plot, you can do the pruning, mowing yourself and get the profit. But in bigger plots, you have to employ manpower.
Conclusion: Christmas tree farms are a good business from the profit point of view. With the aversion towards artificial trees, more and more people are interested to buy Christmas trees for their family to enjoy the real flavor of a full-grown Christmas tree and celebrate the festival. Christmas tree farm not just produces a crop, it becomes the part of a tradition, a part of the festivity.