By Marlee Moore
As the holiday season ramps up, Alabama Christmas tree farms are ready to provide fresh-cut evergreens for local families.
A shortage of commercially grown Christmas trees in some states makes buying Alabama-grown an even easier choice, said the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Blake Thaxton.
“New growers and new retailers are having a difficult time finding some varieties of trees,” said Thaxton, the Federation’s Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Division director. “However, our Alabama Christmas tree growers offer a plethora of trees (Leyland Cypress, Virginia Pine, Carolina Sapphire, etc.) from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee Valley. Any of these trees are perfect for decorating — and bring that woodsy, Christmas smell to your home.”
Trees grown by farmers such as Ray Gilbert of Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm in Lanett are a labor of love. Gilbert and his fellow growers are excited to open their farms to the public this season; most tree farms open the Friday following Thanksgiving and close Christmas Eve.
“The sales season is the fun time of being a Christmas tree farmer,” he said. “It’s fun watching families grow up. All the hard work during the year to grow our trees is worth it during the Christmas season.”
Christmas tree farmers shape and trim trees two to four times a year, in addition to routinely cutting surrounding grass to promote tree growth.
Christmas tree farms have evolved over the years into entertainment destinations, encouraging families to make the season merry and bright. Farms offer tractor wagon rides, hot chocolate, snacks, wreath-making, play areas, gift shops and even visits from Santa Claus.
Tree Choice And Care
When it’s time to pick the perfect tree, keep these tips in mind:
- Measure first.
- Measure height and width of the space where you will display the tree. Account for extra height from the tree stand and topper.
- Choose a tree with an appealing shape that fits your space.
- Look for space between branches.
- For ornaments to hang straight, you’ll want a tree with some space between the branches.
- If buying a fresh-cut or harvested tree, look for dark-green needles and flexible branches.
- Needles should be flexible, adhere to the branch and not fall off in your hand.
- Make a fresh 1-inch cut in the tree trunk before mounting on the stand.
- Get the tree into water as soon as possible.
- Heat in a home can dry a tree out, but freshly cut trees can last up to a month if well-hydrated and kept out of harsh sunlight or drafts.
- Check the water level daily.
- For the first few days, check the level every couple of hours. After a week, water intake will slow, and daily refills should be fine.
- When Christmas is over, don’t trash the tree!
- Turn it into mulch, repurpose it as an animal habitat or replant living Christmas trees.