This Christmas season, more and more Hoosier households gathered around a real Christmas tree. This made for very good year for Christmas tree farmers. Tom and Carrie Dull of Dull’s Tree Farm in Thorntown realized early this season that they did not have the supply to meet what was an increasing demand for real Christmas trees. Since it takes 7 – 8 years to grow a tree, the industry cannot respond quickly to increases in demand. Dulls exhausted their field supply of trees and brought in cut trees from other growers to help meet the demand.
Other growers from around the nation reported that their sales were also up about 20% this year. “Sales are ahead of last year. An increase in interest to purchase local grown trees direct from the farm,” said Tom Langlais of Thomaston, CT. Steve Meier of Jackson MO reported strong sales from the beginning of the season on, “This has been the strongest first weekend in over 12 years.”
Oregon tree farmer Bob Schaefer said the environmental benefits of real trees are attracting more people. This year the Indiana Department of environmental management actually recommended that Hoosiers buy a real tree. Schaefer said artificial trees are not good for the environment, “It’s a petroleum-based product, you know. It’s made in China. So it has to be shipped over here. Just the production and the shipping of the product is probably not the most environmentally sound thing in the world.” Nationally about 30 million Christmas trees were sold this year, and much of the land used for trees cannot be used for other purposes, “A lot of Christmas trees are planted on marginal farm ground, but it’s good for Christmas trees. So it’s utilizing ground that might otherwise not be very productive.”
Schaefer added real Christmas trees can also be recycled, “Recycling is really encouraged. All of our trees have recycling information on them, and we certainly hope people will recycle them. You throw an artificial tree in the landfill, and it’s going to be there 10,000 years from now.” After the holidays, trees are recycled throughout the country into mulch and compost, and even used to prevent beach erosion and provide fish habitat.
For each tree harvested, three seedlings are planted in its place. One acre of Christmas trees produces the daily oxygen needed for 18 people. Plus, tree farms provide habitat for wildlife.