As Western New Yorkers anxiously await the first sign of winter white, New York’s Christmas tree farmers are hoping to see a lot of green this holiday season.
The state is one of the top Christmas tree producers in the country, raking fourth behind Oregon, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Most states in the US are seeing a decline in Christmas tree farms. But not New York, according to Mary Jeanne Packer, head of Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York.
“Here in New York, we have about 875 Christmas tree farms, and nearly all of them are family-owned, sometimes even multiple generations getting involved in ownership,” said Packer. “It’s also an easier kind of farming to get into for new and beginning farmers than some other, especially animal, agriculture.”
Packer touts the environmental benefits of Christmas tree farming. One acre of Christmas trees consumes about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide and produces about 1,000 pounds of oxygen every year. Statewide, there are nearly 19,000 acres of Christmas trees being grown today.
Christmas tree farming is an $8 million-a-year industry in New York, with farms growing nearly 19 million trees. Packer says most of the farms are family-owned and buy equipment from local suppliers, bringing the total economic impact of specialty crop farmers to almost $15 million a year.
Packer points to fertile soil, smart farmers, and urban consumers.
“There is a long period between when a seedling is planted and when it’s harvested, which may be 7, 8, even 10 years. That’s another reason why we’re excited about urban markets, upstate and New York City, because typically those consumers have smaller spaces and are looking for smaller trees. So there’s a shorter period from when the tree is planted until it’s cut,” said Packer.
Not all Christmas trees are grown to fit into living rooms. Domes Tree Farm in Bliss Thursday cut down a 30 foot white fir for the 16th Annual Winter’s Eve celebration at Lincoln Square in New York City.