Facts at a Glance

ACRES OF TREES

2013 TREE HARVEST
(Estimated)

  • Oregon - 63,000 acres
  • Washington - 23,000 acres
  • Nationally - 1 million acres

 

  1. Oregon - 6.4 million trees
  2. North Carolina - 3.5 million trees
  3. Michigan - 3.0 million trees
  4. Pennsylvania - 2.3 million trees
  5. Washington - 2.3 million trees
SALES VALUE

PRODUCTION OF TREES IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

N.W. Wholesale:
  • Oregon - $110 million
  • Washington - $35 million
  • Douglas-fir - 47 percent
  • Noble fir - 45 percent
  • Grand fir - 5 percent
  • All others - 3 percent

    (Fraser fir, Nordmann fir, Concolor fir, Shasta fir, Silver fir, Balsam fir, Turkish fir, Colorado blue and Norway spruce)

 


COUNTIES WITH GREATEST PRODUCTION IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

AVERAGE YEARS TO PRODUCE A 6-FOOT TREE IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

  • Oregon - Benton, Clackamas, Marion, Polk and Yamhill
  • Washington - Kitsap, Lewis, Mason and Thurston
  • Douglas-fir - 7 years
  • Pine and Grand fir - 8 years
  • Noble fir - 9 years
  • Concolor fir - 12 years

NUMBER OF GROWERS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

 

  • Oregon - 700
  • Washington - 250
 
EXPORT OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST TREES
  • Some 92 percent of all Pacific Northwest Christmas trees are exported out of the region
  • California is the Pacific Northwest's largest market
  • Overseas and foreign markets include:
    Japan, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, Hawaii,
    Alaska, Mexico, Guam and Puerto Rico.
MAJOR DESTINATIONS FOR
PACIFIC NORTHWEST CHRISTMAS TREES
  • California - 45 percent
  • Other Western - 10 percent (MT, ID, WY, NV, UT, AZ, NM, CO, AK, HI)
  • Gulf States - 9 percent (OK, TX, AR, LA, TN, MS, AL)
  • Mexico - 16 percent
    (23 percent of all Oregon Douglas-fir are shipped to Mexico)
  • Atlantic States - 4 percent (MD, DE, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL)

NOTE: Because it is impossible to compile exact statistics on harvest, acreage, sales and ranking of production by states, all figures are estimates.

* Based on consumer surveys commissioned by the National Christmas Tree Association.


GROWING, HARVESTING AND ENJOYING CHRISTMAS TREES

Christmas trees are now a crop much as is cotton, wheat, soybeans or grass seed and the product offered to the consumer is of far better quality than the often thin and scraggly offerings of yesteryear. Today's Christmas trees in the Pacific Northwest are either planted row-on-row on neat farms in the valley flatlands and rolling hills or, in regions where the terrain is rugged, in random fashion. Regardless of the planting system - farms or "natural" stands - the trees are given the same intensive cultural care.

Acreages range from as large as more than ten thousand acres to as small as four to five acres. The Pacific Northwest (primarily Oregon and Washington) is not only the largest, but also the finest growing area in the nation.

Here, where the summers are long and sunny and the winters are moist and cold, literally thousands of acres are planted to the species of trees preferred by buyers around the world.

The Pacific Northwest is the world's largest producer of Douglas-fir, but is also known for its Noble and Grand fir as well as several varieties of pine and various other less well known species.

Of the estimated 30 million trees to be harvested by American growers for the 2012 Christmas season, more than 8 million will come from the farms and natural stands of the Pacific Northwest growers.

Soon after Thanksgiving their trees appear on street corner lots, nurseries, garden supply stores and department stores across the nation as well as foreign countries.

Vendors at these outlets represent a wide range of interests. Often they are professionals who market trees every year, but there will also be a goodly sprinkling of Boy Scout troops, service clubs, church groups and on-holiday college students who see Christmas tree retailing as a way to fatten thin bank accounts.

In addition to corner lots and other retail vendors, thousands of Christmas trees are sold from Choose & Cut farms across the nation.

Selecting and cutting a Christmas tree at a nearby Choose & Cut farm is an activity enjoyed by families of all types and income levels.

Choose & Cut operators make the outing even more enjoyable by providing such extras as free hot chocolate, coffee, candy canes and the like.

Some also offer the free use of saws, will carry the tree to the vehicle and see that it is safely mounted for transportation.

Nor is it unusual to see a Choose & Cut operator offer free rides on horse-drawn wagons, a visit with Santa Claus as well as a well-stocked gift shop.

Some families enjoy such outings so much that on their annual visit they will not only select a tree for that Christmas season, but in addition tag an immature tree, which will be theirs when it grows to the proper height.

In succeeding years families have been know to visit "their" tree during the summer to check its progress.

TREE CULTURING AND HARVESTING

Growing Christmas trees in the new century is a full-time job, a job for the experts. While the end product appears only briefly, growing the trees - the so-called cultural work of fertilizing, pruning, shearing, etc. - is a never-ending task, just as it is with any agricultural endeavor. Harvest is, of course, the busiest time of the year for the grower. Literally thousands of workers descend on the fields of mature trees to cut and haul them to staging areas where they are loaded on trucks to be carried to their ultimate destination.

Growers try exceedingly hard to see that their trees are fresh when they reach the marketplace. The goal of every grower is to see that "trees cut today are on the highway today," en route to customers within hours of when they were harvested.

To speed the harvest process some large growers use helicopters to pick up slings of freshly cut trees and fly them to the staging area for loading on trucks.

Numerous Pacific Northwest Christmas tree growers take yet another step to see that their product is fresh when it arrives.

They transport their trees in refrigerated vans, which keep the trees at the proper temperature when crossing mountain ranges or traveling in southern sub-tropic regions where winter temperatures are above normal.

At the final destination trees may be stored in cool rooms until delivered as needed to replenish supplies at street corner lots.

Growers also encourage tree lot operators to keep their trees fresh by sheltering them from sun and desiccating winds and to display trees in water stands. 



THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECT OF GROWING CHRISTMAS TREES

Christmas tree growers, as stewards of the land, are devout environmentalists. Often their trees are grown on marginal lands which are unsuitable for other crops. Christmas trees help hold the soil and prevent erosion or loss of top soil. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent each year on research and development projects by numerous Christmas tree associations.

These projects have in many ways made growers keenly aware of their responsibility to the environment.

They find satisfaction in knowledge that due to photosynthesis Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. Studies by the National Christmas Tree Association show that a single acre of Christmas trees will each day produce the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people.

With an estimated one million acres of Christmas trees in the United States this translates into the production of oxygen for 18 million people per day. And, for every Christmas tree harvested each year an estimated three new seedlings are planted.

Since the mid 1970s when it became apparent that the nation's landfills would reach capacity, growers have supported and encouraged recycling of Christmas trees.

As with those involved in successful pick-up, chipping and compost-producing efforts, growers want to "give the earth a gift" by returning chipped Christmas trees to the soil.

In addition to programs offered by cities, independent recycling efforts provide the secondary benefit of refilling the coffers of service clubs, churches and youth organizations which charge a minimal amount for picking up and chipping trees into mulch for gardeners.

While such programs are not necessarily applicable to every community, Christmas trees have also been found useful as sand and soil erosion barriers on beaches. Trees have also been lowered into ponds to provide cover for small fish and other aquatic life.