How to start a Christmas tree farm

Do you own a piece of agricultural land that you want to put to good use? Perhaps you should consider using your acreage for growing Christmas trees. It's a low-maintenance investment that will start yielding profits in about eight years.

So, how can you grow Christmas trees and make good profits out of selling the Christmas centrepieces? In this post, we're going to show you exactly how to start a Christmas tree farm.

How to start a Christmas tree farm in brief

Christmas trees are a timeless tradition that will always have a market. Easy to grow with a consistent demand, the biggest challenge is timeframe -- they take up to seven years to mature.

If you can wait, though, you'll consistently earn over £7k ($8,500) per acre growing and selling a crop that's easy to maintain and can support numerous incremental income streams.


Profitability

Ease to produce

 Time Required

sell christmas trees

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The business opportunity for Christmas tree farms

The market for Christmas trees

During winters, the biggest shopping goal of the people of the US and the UK is to get the best Christmas trees. In Europe, the demand has reached 50 million trees a year. People in the UK alone buy 8 million of them. The US, on the other hand, has a market for 8 million Christmas trees a year. The average price of Christmas trees can be around $78-$81 in America. On the other hand, in the UK, the cost can be anything between £20 and £80 ($25 and $100).

Christmas trees around the web

Interest in Christmas trees has nearly doubled over the last decade and is showing no signs of going away. So while artificial Christmas trees are gaining ground in areas like Dubai, interest will remain strong in the UK and US.

interest in christmas trees over time
interest in christmas trees globally

And everyone loves to instagram their Christmas trees with over 22m posts.

Christmas trees on instagram

And it's no surprise you'll find Christmas trees all over Pinterest as well.

christmas trees on pinterest

https://www.pinterest.com/jennyduke/christmas-trees/

How much can you make if you start a Christmas tree farm?

With such enormous demand for Christmas trees worldwide, you can earn significant profits from a Christmas tree business if you have enough land. The market in the UK alone is £384m per year with eight million trees averaging around £48 each. Each acre can sustain around 1,000 trees. If you allow seven years of growth, each acre will yield a retail value of around £7k per year. Of course you'll only reap the entire retail price if you sell direct to consumer (DTC).

How many Christmas trees grow per acre?

It depends how big you want the trees to get, but most Christmas tree farms grow anywhere from 200 to 1,500 trees per acre. As mentioned above, 1,000 is about right for most people.

When can you sell Christmas trees, and how much can you make?

Obviously November and December are the big winners for Christmas trees, though you can stretch your profit making potential into January by offering a tree collection service for between £5 to £20 each. In addition to the extra fee you can charge for collecting the trees, you can also chip the wood, sell it for firewood, and so on.

where to sell your christmas trees

Where can you sell Christmas trees?

Once your trees are ready to be sold, you need to find the right platform to sell them. Thankfully, you have plenty of time to research your market. However, here are some interesting facts for you:

  • Around 24% of the Christmas trees are sold to customers straight from the farm.
  • About 68% of the customers go to retail outlets and seasonal lots.
  • The remaining 8% depend on online portals for their Christmas tree shopping.

So, your primary target is the retail outlets. Find a supplier to sell your harvest in bulk. Remember that people will come to the farm looking for bulk purchase at low costs. Don't ignore the online platforms to sell and market your trees. If you're renting a lot to display the trees, pick parking lots of department stores and shopping plazas for that to attract Christmas shoppers. 

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Cost to get started selling Christmas trees

You can find a detailed breakdown of the myriad costs involved in starting a Christmas tree farm here.

As a rule, though, you'll have both fixed costs like machinery that won't change regardless of how much land you're farming (up to a point). You'll also have variable, or per acre, costs.

Your initial fixed costs around around £10k ($12,500) for a tractor, mower, plow, sprayer, and spreader.

Seedlings will cost anywhere from £500 - £1000 ($600 - $1,250) per acre.

What's the ROI of selling Christmas trees?

For simplicity's sake, let's say you have ten acres of land and you plant them all at the same time. In reality, you'll probably want to succession plant (an acre or two a year) so you have a continuous stream of trees.

Costs

  • Machinery and other fixed costs - £10k
  • Seedlings (1,000 per acre) - £7.5k
  • Land and labour (free)

Total Costs - £17.5k ($22k)

Income

10,000 trees at £48 each = £480,000 ($600k)

Profit

Around £460k ($575k) total or £6,500 ($8,200) per acre per year.

All the above assumes you're selling DTC and have no marketing costs, so you'll need to adjust accordingly.

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Get started growing Christmas trees on your farm

Land required to grow Christmas trees

An acre of land can accommodate up to 1,500 trees. Christmas trees grow to a height of 5-7 feet in 8 years. So, you'll need plenty of loading space, as well as access roads at an interval of 12-15 rows of trees. But, it's advisable to plant around 1,000 trees in your land.

It is a good idea to use 1/8th of your land to plant and replant Christmas trees. That will help maintain the soil quality, give you plenty of space to move around, and reduce the chances of ending up with too many trees that might not be sold at all. 

Christmas tree farm

Christmas tree farm

Growing conditions for Christmas trees

An essential part of starting your Christmas tree farm is to ensure the best conditions for the trees.

Here's how you can approach it:

First, get the soil of your farm tested. Make sure that it drains well and there's no heavy clay. The test will also reveal the soil's pH level. These properties help to figure out what kind of seedling will grow best in this soil.

Select a land that has a slope of 5%-20% to ensure that water doesn't stand at the feet of the tree. Also, make sure that the trees get plenty of sunlight and air. To prepare the soil before planting the seedlings, remove all existing vegetation using a mower, pickaxe, shover, etc., to make it smooth.

Luckily, this tree won't demand high maintenance. The only care you need to show it will be in the first year. After that, you just need to water it in the dry months. Pruning and shearing the Christmas tree when the needles reach a length of around 1 inch is needed every mid-summer.

It's recommended that you cut the tree down in the late fall months. That is the best time for harvesting the tree because it will be full of moisture during this time of the year. So, the needles will look green for a longer time when it is finally put up during Christmas. 

How long does it take to grow and harvest Christmas trees?

It will very much depend on the size of trees  you're after, but you can expect to wait six to eight years for trees that are six to eight feet tall.

What you need to get started growing Christmas trees

Though you'll need some heavy equipment down the line, all you really need to get started is some land and seedlings.

Here's the best price supplier we've found in the UK:

Snowbird Christmas Trees​​​

There's not a lot written about growing Christmas trees, but Growing Christmas Trees is a good place to start.

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Get started selling

Set up a website

Christmas trees are beautiful to look at, so it shouldn't be hard to build a gorgeous website to promote your farm. As ever, we recommend Carrd.co, because it's so easy. You can sign up here. For a get started guide, you can have a look here.

If you'd like some help with this, we'll happily build out a site and social presence for you. Just click here.

Pick a name

If you'd like to get yourself a new domain name for your site, we recommend Namecheap. It's, well, the cheapest!

If you don't like the look of anything you find there, you can click here to search for your own.

Get set up on Etsy and Amazon

Etsy and Amazon are the two most popular retail marketplaces for pampas grass decor, so you want to make sure you sign up with both of them.

Etsy:

Amazon:


Ready to get started? We can help

We'll build a website for your smallholding or hobby farm

If you want to make more money from your smallholding or  hobby farm but don't want to deal with any of the techy bits, we can help build you a website, set up your social pages, and make sure your analytics are buttoned up.. 

Focus on your land, not your website.

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