Contributed by ALFA / Marlee Moore and Mary Wilson
As the holiday season ramps up, Alabama Christmas tree farms are ready to provide fresh-cut evergreens for local families.
“Our Alabama Christmas tree growers offer a plethora of Christmas tree varieties, including Leyland Cypress, Arizona Cypress, Virginia Pine and Carolina Sapphire, from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee Valley,” said Blake Thaxton, the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Greenhouse, Nursery & Sod Division director. “Any of these trees are perfect for decorating — and bring that wonderful, woodsy, Christmas scent into your home.”
While there have been reports of Christmas tree shortages, the Federation’s Brian Hardin said that’s due to supply chain issues with shipping in different varieties of trees from out of state.
“Many times, at retail or box outlet stores, those are Christmas trees that are coming from out of state. Yes, there are fewer of those, and you will see the impact of the supply chain issues,” said Hardin, the Federation’s Governmental and Agricultural Programs (GAP) Department director. “However, we have plenty of Alabama Christmas trees that you can purchase locally. There are many Christmas tree farms in our state where a family can go and enjoy cutting their own tree.”
Wadsworth Christmas Tree Farm in Wetumpka is one Alabama farm that plans to sell hundreds of trees this season, starting on Saturday, Nov. 20.
“We have plenty of trees here at the farm,” said farm owner Frank Wadsworth. “I just tell people to be patient and be ready for a large crowd, especially the day after Thanksgiving. We call that Green Friday up here instead of Black Friday, because it’s our busiest day.”
Wadsworth also encouraged shoppers to claim a tree early. Even though he raises 8,000 trees at the farm, only those that are four to five years old are tagged and ready to sell this year.
Over in Lanett, Ray Gilbert of Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm said growing Christmas trees is a labor of love. Gilbert and his fellow growers are excited to open their farms to the public this season, which starts the day after Thanksgiving for him.
“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.
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. Trees may need up to a gallon of water every day. — 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.