If you’ve got a bit of extra land on your homestead that you’ve been trying to utilize, a Christmas tree farm can be a great way to make extra cash. It’s not very high-maintenance, and with a little planning, you can create a side-business which will create a good income year after year.
But how many Christmas trees per acre can you plant? 1,200 to 1,500 per acre are estimates often tossed around. While that seems like a LOT of trees, keep in mind that the average Christmas tree takes 6 to 8 years to grow. Growers will stagger this growth to have a harvest-able crop of trees every Christmas season. On average, a grower will likely re-plant around 200 trees per acre each season.
BUT, before you go out and drop 1,500 trees in the ground – you should really think about how much labor you have at your disposal. Because while growing Christmas trees does involve a lot of waiting, there is not zero labor involved.
Once your trees reach about 3 feet in height, it’s time to start shearing them. Yes, those pretty trees you see for sale at the store didn’t quite grow that neatly. They need to be cleaned up first, and while it’s not a tough job, it is a time consuming one if you’ve got a LOT of trees to be sheared.
You can expect to spend anywhere from 10 to 30 hours shearing 1,000 of these tiny trees. This, of course, depends on speed and experience and if this is your first rodeo, you’d best bet on the higher end of that time frame. If you plant yourself 3 acres worth of trees to make it rich come Christmas time – expect to spend several 8 hour day weekends shearing them yourself if you can’t hire outside help.
However, for many people – the price of admission (ie. the labor) is well worth it. As a well-planned Christmas tree farm can produce $15,000 to $20,000 of income during the holiday season – depending on location, of course.
While big box stores sell their own trees, there’s something special about a u-pick tree lot. The experience of heading out and picking your own tree is special and many people are perfectly willing to go out of their way to get it. Especially since the price of U Pick Christmas tree lots are more favorable than big box stores that mark trees up for convenience.
If you’re growing the trees yourself, seedlings come cheap. At just $0.50 to $1 per tree, it’s easy to sell your trees much cheaper than both big box stores and tree lots that buy wholesale while still turning a really nice profit for your efforts. Christmas trees don’t last long though, and you’ll need to be sure you can move what you cut quickly.
Bob learned about farming from his grand dad. So, the decision to leave the city and start homesteading was not a difficult transition. He now lives with his wife and two kids on their 30 acre property in Ohio.