Iowans are encouraged to consider choosing a fresh, Iowa-grown Christmas tree to decorate their home for the holidays. Popular species include Scotch pine, white pine, red pine, balsam fir and Fraser fir. For the grower, this holiday sale season is not the only busy time of the year. Growing Christmas trees takes year-round management.
“There are more than 100 Christmas tree farms in Iowa where families in all parts of the state can go out and choose a fresh, locally grown tree that can serve as a centerpiece for their holiday celebrations. Going out to cut down a fresh Christmas tree can be part of a great family tradition and is an opportunity to connect with an Iowa farmer and support the local economy,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.
Find tree farm near you
The Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association has a searchable online directory of tree farms across the state on its website at iowachristmastrees.com. Besides locations of the farms, the “Find a Farm” directory also has a phone number and hours of operation for each farm to assist in planning. The website offers information on types of Christmas trees and tips on keeping your tree in good condition during the holiday season.
Iowa Christmas tree farms devote over 1,500 acres to Christmas tree production in Iowa and as a result harvest approximately 39,500 Christmas trees each year. The result is a $1 million industry contributing to Iowa’s economy.
Takes time and care to grow these trees
Members of the association donate trees to the Capitol complex in Des Moines, including trees for the governor’s office, the lieutenant governor’s office and the rotunda, as well as the Wallace state office building. The beautifully decorated rotunda tree is available for public viewing daily on the second floor of the Capitol building.
It takes six to 12 years to grow a Christmas tree before it is ready to be sold. Most tree farms in Iowa are 3 to 8 acres in size and sell trees by the choose-and-harvest method, where customers come to the farm and cut their own trees.
Enjoy trip to tree farm
Here are some tips from the association to make your trip to a Christmas tree farm more enjoyable:
• Be sure you know what size tree fits in your home, both height and width, before you leave to go to the farm. Trees always look smaller in the field.
• Wear comfortable clothes, sturdy shoes and gloves that you aren’t afraid to get dirty.
• Make sure the tree you pick has a straight trunk and will fit properly in your tree stand.
• Fresh trees need water. Once you get your tree home, check the water daily. Trees can use up to a gallon of water every day.
• Make sure you unplug any tree lights before you leave home or go to bed.
• Fresh cut Christmas trees are biodegradable. Recycle your tree after Christmas.
Iowa State University Extension has additional information on selecting and caring for Christmas trees.