Starting a small acreage Christmas tree farm. Things to consider before planting.

Hello rob here from the flanigan Homestead and east fork christmas tree Farms uh many of you that follow my Channel uh the questions i get asked the Most are Christmas trees and how do you start a Christmas tree farm and i have Over i think about 40 videos now on a List i’ll share that at the end of the Video on where to see my list on how to Grow christmas trees but uh this video Is specifically about how to start a Small acreage christmas tree farm so you Have five or ten acres and you wanted to Start a small christmas tree farm what Are the steps that you need to do to be Successful and make sure everything’s Done properly so For the sake of this video let’s say we Have five acres and we want to start a Christmas tree farm How would i do it so here we go First of all you need to lay out Everything besides the tree first you Need to make sure that you’re going to Have enough parking and everything else To go uh with your christmas tree okay So number one you have to Before you start planting christmas Trees and everything you got to make Sure that you have enough room for your Customers to come out if you’re doing a U-cut christmas tree farm they need to Be able to plant so i can say from

Experience on my farm and some other Farms if you have a five-acre tree farm Um On a nice weekend day the thanksgiving Weekend or the first weekend in december You’re going to sell over 100 trees as You after you get your Business going over 100 trees every uh Weekend day at least and if it’s a nice Weekend day on those two weeks and Especially like around here if it’s Rainy on saturday but they know it’s Gonna be nice on sunday you’re probably Gonna be pushing 200 trees A day Where are those people gonna park so uh I would say and you know uh they don’t Just come like spread out evenly Throughout the day i’ve had days that we Sell a lot of christmas trees and we Have times where there’s hardly anyone Here and then just a whole bunch of People show up at the same time you know After lunch on those nice days it’s it’s Going to get busy so you need to have Parking i would say if you can have a Five acre christmas tree farm absolute Minimum you need to have at least space For 20 people to park at once Probably more than that and you need to Have it Near a place where you want to sell from Not on the far side you know and easy Access for the trees so in our situation

Here at esport christmas tree farms Here’s our shaker right here Uh this is a christmas cabin that we Call it that we sell out of we have free Hot chocolate and everything here so This is kind of our hub and then you Come out here and we have we are Fortunate enough that at the end of the County road we have this roundabout And so cars park all along the edge There around here and we get about six In the middle here and then We our road is just wide enough that we Can park cars up here and i’ll tell you We do not have enough parking uh we do Have Way on the other end Over there you can see the red bar in The back when we need to we can park People back there But you might Be aware that christmas tree farming is A long term thing And things change on you that house up There was not there so now there’s a Driveway when we have people parking all The way up the street that we have to be Careful about their driveway Uh for the first 15 years of our farm there was not a House there and now part of the family Has built and taken away part of our Christmas tree farm so If you’re planning on

Parking 20 Spaces absolute minimum you should have At least 30 maybe more even for a five Acre farm and just know over time People may be building and things may Change on the road This is our big traffic area nice wide Open gate a couple of vehicles can come Through here We shake here And you can see we have it is not a Large structure but we have a shed Where we can put the different things in We usually have some refreshments free Hot chocolate and candy canes in there Also a place to warm up there is a wood Stove in there and if need be there our Cashier can go in there usually we like To have the cashier which is myself Standing out in this gate area greeting People and Taking payments as they go out Next on your farm you’re going to need To figure out Types of trees species of trees and Spacing and roads so how you’re going to Lay out your field Just so you know on an acre of land if You plant trees six feet by six feet Apart which i think is the largest Spacing you might need you can get about 1200 trees per acre six feet by six feet Equals 1200 trees approximately five

Feet by five feet which is getting Minimal but enough for a lot of trees Especially if you’re going to be Harvesting at uh six seven eight feet And not letting it go big uh five feet By five feet you can get about 1700 Trees per acre on there so that’s a Significant difference uh 1200 trees to 1700 trees uh depending on what you need But i will say that uh Five by five gets pretty tight we have Some sections of our farm that’s five by Five Most of our farm i like what we did is We have six foot rows going away from Our main road And and what that does is i can take my Quad or equipment and or customers when They’re going down the main road where It’s nice and wide and open then they Can go walk Away from the main road and it’s six Feet wide and that gives enough room That you can walk down i bought a quad That is perfect Purposely with narrower tracks and i can Drive my quad down and use equipment Down those rows that are six feet wide And then so that gives us more spacing That way but then you only do five feet Wide the other way because people don’t Need to be going through there and you Don’t need to drive equipment if you Have a christmas tree tractor or a quad

That you pull equipment through um you Know drive down the main road and then When you turn you got the six foot wide Rows and you can get equipment through There and you can walk down through There and then five the other way so That’s up to you um five by five is Pretty tight especially for you cut Trying to get through there but you if You don’t want to waste too much space Six foot by six foot might be too much But i like six foot one way Five the other Direction so here’s the main road down The center of our farm And uh this used to be all trees here But like i said a house got built there The trees go up to the base of the hill There you can’t see the smaller ones and Then when you turn this way we have six Foot rows so you can see even those These trees aren’t tiny anymore there’s Still plenty of room to get down the Rows of these grand firs as we go Because they’re six foot spacing and Even as they get taller There’s going to be room to go through Here and you can drive equipment through Here uh you will be hitting branches but You can get through When you if you go the other way which Is five by five spacing i don’t have i Have so many trees have been cut out you Can’t really see it

The trees grow in tight together and you Don’t have as much space Again here’s another example on a ucut Christmas tree farm i wouldn’t want to Go more than maybe 250 feet in any one Direction without being able to drive at Least a quad so here’s our main road That you could drive a big truck down And then here’s a side road that we Could drive our side by side on or our Quads with a trailer pulling trees out And so we’re probably 250 feet to the County road there we’ve got tall trees With no spaces Here we’ve got a road to access here We go out here at the end of these other Taller trees but before the smaller ones That you can hardly see there’s another Road to cut across to do Side-by-side by side or quad There are row there is a space drive all The way around the back side before that Row of trees You can cut across Here And there’s a road along this side of The trees And then it goes along the red barn the Brown barn there and back around so There’s No place on this farm that you can’t get A quad Within A couple hundred feet of a tree

Okay the next key point is uh you need To buy trees and you need to plant trees And i would suggest on a five acre farm Have at least two different varieties Maybe three but don’t get too cute and Try to have too many different varieties And when i say don’t get too cute There’s trees that are selling in your Area Sell those here in the pacific northwest Nobles are huge uh everybody buys noble So arch farm is 70 noble uh we’re trans Uh changing that slightly to get more And more nordman in the noble section But they’re they’re very similar in look Uh so nobles and norden’s are about 70 Percent here i have probably 20 percent Grand firs which is another really Popular tree here in the pacific Northwest smell better than any other Tree that i’ve uh ever been around just Magnificent smelling i don’t last as Long and then dug furs have been around For forever uh on my farm we don’t get As many people looking for them but we Always get people looking for doug furs And they’re uh historically popular in The pacific northwest so we have a small Section of doug first to keep those People happy So uh you know but Get something that’s proven that people Like and then as you get more educated On uh your christmas tree farm

Maybe try some different varieties but One thing i really really really want to Spread stress is know your seed source Absolutely know your seed source look For christmas tree stock around here we Have tons of dug furs that are grown for Timber stock they aren’t the best trees For christmas trees uh also there’s Different seed zones on the nobles which Are really popular here so the first Year About 20 years ago when we first started To plant uh It was similar to this year there’s a Lot of people planting christmas trees We were late into the game and so we Were Calling all the nurseries no we’re out Nowhere out and then this one place up North said oh yeah we have some Christmas trees we have some noble furs They’ll be they’re beautiful uh for Christmas trees why don’t you buy them And we should have questioned why They’re everything else is out and these Are still there well um they didn’t lie To us they were beautiful noble for Chris they grew beautiful nobles but Nobles are tend to be slower growing and We need about eight years to grow noble Anyway i would say these trees on Average took 12 years to grow they were Beautiful but they were slow growers and You know

Do you want to take eight years to sell A tree or do you want to take 12 years To sell a tree so we planted our first Acre with those christmas trees And then we planted the second acre with Another variety and we harvested all the Second year planting before we harvested The first year planting now granted they Didn’t lie to me they had a bluish tent And they had a nice shape and they were Beautiful christmas trees but they just If you want to be profitable you can’t Wait 12 years okay and so it’s not just How fast they grow but certain trees Don’t grow as well uh any variety that i Can buy here for christmas trees i could Buy some that are better stock and some That aren’t uh if you can get uh you Know we always try to get for our nobles The pacific northwest christmas tree Association has an elite orchard Hard to get your hands on that i have Another grower that has Ha created their own orchard to get seed Off of and so we’re planting those and Getting nice trees out of that Know your seed source don’t just run Down to the nursery and say oh it’s a Dough fur or Whatever you grow in your area And this would be great Check around ask christmas tree people Is that a seed zone is that a type of Tree that you want

Otherwise you put it in the ground and You’re going to let it grow and grow and Grow and it may take for forever and Have a beautiful tree fortunately for us We got a beautiful tree Or It might Grow for five six years and you realize This tree isn’t going to be any good and You cool it out and you throw it on the Fire that’s a terrible situation Know your seed source Another thing you need to do if you’re Going to grow christmas trees before you Start uh check your soil know if you can Grow trees or the type of trees that you Want We have beautiful soil here that can Grow just about anything but you may Want to check amendments uh that you Might need to do beforehand uh for Instance here in the pacific northwest i Would say almost every christmas tree Farmer has to add lime at some point in Time and continue to add it now i am Just Top top dressing the field with lime and Letting it work its way down but it Takes a lot of time to do that so if you Take a soil sample beforehand and say You’re going to plow up the field the First year before trees are planted if You know that you need lime To lower the acidity or whatever and

Change the ph level then you can work Incorporate that down in to the soil a Little bit further which is beneficial But uh No uh if you’re you know don’t waste Your time if you’re gonna have soil That’s not going to allow you to grow Christmas trees Okay a couple other things you’re gonna Have to do on a christmas tree farm Number one Is you’re gonna have to have something For weed control Okay there’s a number of different ways To do it I would say that this is our biggest Pain every year on our farm We have done where the where you’ve Killed everything except for the Christmas trees and it’s bare earth and I would say if you want to grow the best Christmas trees That is the best way to for your Christmas trees if you have every other Competitor off the ground and nothing Else taking the nutrients nothing else Taking the moisture bare earth is going To give you the best christmas trees me Personally i don’t want to use that much Chemical i try to reduce the chemical a Little bit but i am going to have to use Some And so what we have tried to do is spray So that we have rows of around the

Christmas trees they uh a couple feet on Each side when they’re younger and Where we kill everything and then we Have rows of grass so we’re using less Chemical for one and two with a u-cut Christmas tree form farm Our guests are walking down rows of Grass Instead of mud because it’s always Raining here But Anyway You’re going to have to make a decision On that and you’re going to need Equipment to spray herbicides so that’s One of the pieces of equipment that You’re going to need i’m going to start Talking about equipment here in a second But you’re going to have to make a Decision bare earth or rose or just Planting Trees in the middle of the grass which Can work too but uh Just know on these hot summers like we Had this last year if there’s grass Right up to the trees there they’re Fighting for that uh water just as much As your trees and until your trees keep Their roots down deeper uh the grass Sometimes wins Okay Bare minimum equipment you always can Buy more equipment there’s always more Things to buy on a farm uh i talked to

Any kind i was doing an interview with a Tulip farmer while you talk about Farmers don’t make money they just buy More equipment anyway but on a five acre Farm obviously you’ll need shovels or an Auger or something to plant the trees When it comes to pruning there’s two Tools you’re going to have to have You know just your normal hand pruners And you’re going to need a shearing Knife i personally prefer 18 inch handle 18 inch blade i can reach Easily up to 10 feet with this in my Hands You can go quickly When you’re doing just a few hundred Trees you could do them all with this But As soon as you get more than that which Any type of tree farm you have a lot More you need a blade that you can go a Lot faster there’s other equipment that You can buy but this is bare minimum uh At the time of recording these are about 70 bucks if i remember right you know Hand pruners you can get those anywhere From 15 to 100 But those are two things that you’ll Absolutely have to have Another thing that yeah i already talked About spraying herbicide you need Equipment of some sort bare minimum Would be the backpacks Pump sprayer and then you you know that

You see that holds three gallons Uh also you’re going to need to spray For aphids mites different things that You need to kind of fog the tree The log a lot of the bigger farmers have A tractor that goes and fogs that i have A leaf blower High-powered leaf blower that holds Three gallons of liquid in the back and Then i have nozzles i can turn and i can Fog The trees and kill the aphids or the Mites and so i would recommend you’ll Need at least that that same blower that I was talking about Can also do put in a dry pack and blow Powder On the trees if you need it to Um Obviously you also need a chainsaw Cut down the trees i recommend a quad And a trailer At least to Move things uh move things around and Haul trees out And okay i know it’s a long ways away if You’re starting a farm but how are you Going to market your trees and how are You going to sell them We first of all Make it so that people really want to Come to your farm okay we have a petting Zoo out here free petting zoo you don’t Have to do it for free but we do it for

Free we have free hot chocolate in our Warming shed and we have the best Service around and i’m not just saying That i’ve had a great crew that will out Here that will cut you just point to it Will cut your tree down for you haul it Up front shake it put it on your car you Don’t even have to touch it if you don’t Want to Now that takes a lot of labor as well But once someone’s come out to our farm And had that kind of service They come back year after year Um but you have to get them out the First time to come back but You know then they’ll start putting out On social media and you’ll get people But uh early on one of the things that We did and you need to be affiliated With different groups and whatnot but Both my business partner and i uh Coached a lot of sports teams and we’re Also Heavily involved in our churches so what Uh we did is we made some certificates And what we basically said is just put The name and address of our pharmacy and Hat gave it to them and said print as Many as you want hand it to as many People as you want and the certificate Would say something along you know take This to esport christmas tree farms and When you buy the tree hand it to them And the customers don’t get

The money off but it might say ten Dollars or fifteen dollars will come Back to your group so or whatever amount You want to do And so what that does is you got people Handing out one people are talking a Large group of people are talking about Your farm and people are coming out they Want to support their youth group or Their Excuse me their sports team They come out They’re happy they’ll come back the next Years and then you go in hand to check To the basketball team or your church Youth group and people are really happy And one of the Excuse me one of the reasons i like to Do it that way is I don’t have to sell the tree really Cheap so the customers are used to uh Paying the price of what the what the Market value is When you sell them really cheap to get People in and then you raise it up to Market value people are like oh i came Here because it was cheap but uh you Know the going rate for the normal noble Furs out here this last year were Between 90 and 100 Uh for an eight foot tree so if i was to Sell those really cheap and then raise The price up people like well i’m gonna Go somewhere else but if i give the

Certificate Then uh they’re still paying the 90 And then The church youth group is getting some Of that back or the sports teams get Some of that back but the customer comes Back the next year already knowing the Approximate price of the tree and not Going to be surprised when all of a Sudden it’s a lot more All right i i’m going to have to shut This down it’s getting dark already here Uh it gets dark early on these winter Days but anyway I have lots more videos on christmas Tree farming if you look right here There’s a list i have i believe about 40 At the time of this recording on Different things that you do on your Christmas tree farm So you can watch those Put comments or questions Down below i’d be happy to answer Anything that i can and as always Thanks for joining me on the flanigan Homestead where christmas trees are my Business teaching cleaning horticulture Is my job and outdoor projects are my Passion be blessed everyone and enjoy Christmas tree farming