First posted on 12-11-2014
Santa may have fewer Missouri-grown trees to stow his presents under this year, with the latest Census of Agriculture showing the number of Christmas tree farms in Missouri declining from 196 in 2002 to 131 in 2007 and then 105 in 2012.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, those 105 Missouri Christmas tree farms in 2012 had sales of $1,146,000 for 32,810 trees which ranks Missouri 16th in the nation for total sales.
However, the United States Census of Agriculture shows the number of acres devoted to growing Christmas trees in Missouri has also been in decline: 3,775 acres in 2002, to 1,596 acres in 2007 and then 1,324 acres in 2012.
Oregon is the top Christmas tree state, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, with 1,517 farms on 53,605 acres. North Carolina was second with 1,370 farms on 40,352 acres and Pennsylvania third with1,360 farms on 31, 577 acres.
The Missouri Christmas Tree Association lists two member farms in southwest Missouri: Charity Keith who owns Ozark Valley Christmas Tree Farm in Southwest City and Gary Maggard, owner of Maggard Tree Farm in Cabool, Mo.
Demand for trees has sagged in recent years. Meanwhile, prices for farm grown trees have not gone up but the cost of growing them has which means it is harder to make money. As a result, many growers have turned their tree farms into agritourism opportunities that include holiday photo ops, hot chocolate, petting zoos and other family friendly activities.
“We are a small choose and cut farm and we have seen a slow decline in demand since about 2006. This year has, however, started off well. Costs have risen and we haven’t increased prices for a few years. However, we recently made the decision to keep planting for the future thanks to our loyal customers,” said Maggard.
According to a National Christmas Tree Association poll, consumers bought more than 33.02 million real trees in 2013, up from 24.5 million in 2012. The purchase of artificial trees also rose between 2012 and 2013 from 10.9 million to 14.7 million.
Of the real trees purchased, NCTA said 85 percent were pre-cut and 14 percent came from cut-your-own farms. The remaining 1 percent didn’t offer an answer in the poll.
KEEP TREE FRESH
To keep a real Christmas tree fresh as long as possible, it’s important to buy the freshest one available. As soon as you get the tree home, cut a half-inch to an inch from its base, and put it immediately in a bucket of fresh water.
Other tips on keeping your live Christmas tree:
• To keep it fresh in your home, don’t place it near heat sources, and make sure to keep the stand full of water.
• Use only the lights designated for indoor use on your tree, and turn the lights off when you can’t keep an eye on them.
• Once you have taken all the necessary precautions, sit back and bask in the glow of your Christmas tree.
For more information, contact the University of Missouri’s Center for Agroforestry online at http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/
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