Jessie Davis: We began growing trees about 25 years ago back in 1983. Now we have over a million trees in the ground and we sell about 100,000 trees per year. Growing Christmas trees is four season job. The first step is you go out and take solo samples of the ground that you are going to plan on and adding whatever nutrients that's needed. Next you will plant the Christmas tree and thats a story in itself because you have to make sure that you plant them in very straight rows.
The very first year the tree doesnt grow very much, its just a matter of it surviving. But the second year is when you really start to see some growth on the tree and they will grow about a foot per year. Beginning with the second year, you have to start pruning or trimming as most of tree growers call it and trim the ends of the tips off, so that it gets a good conical shape. That practice has to take place each year in order to keep the tree growing in that good shape that everyone loves.
As the trees mature and you begin your harvest then you will use a flagging tie we tie on the tree and what its used for is to determine the height of the tree and tells what the grade of the tree is and who the customer is.
Christmas trees are cut manually with a chainsaw and then they are carried to the tree baler in order to wrap the tree so that they are bundled as tightly as possible for shipment. Then they are transported from the field to a loading yard where they will be stored in a upright position so that you dont have the trees being mashed or broken. Then they will be loaded onto a truck depending on what the customer has ordered.
In transporting the Christmas tree, its very critical that we make sure that the tree stays fresh. If we are going to ship for long distances, we will use refrigerator trailers and we will set the temperature at about 45-50 degrees, so that there is not excessive heat.
One of the best feelings that a Christmas tree farmer can have is when they see one of their trees decorated and put in someones home. Just to know that all the of work, the nurture, the care, that we have taken for that tree and to see someone enjoy it really is just a feeling of nothing but satisfaction.