Growing Christmas trees (Picea Abies) to sell
If you are looking to buy Picea Abies for a Christmas tree plantation, then you will be pleased to know that the seeds used to grow them have been selected from trees that have a good shape to them already with the theory being that the new trees will also carry a good shape too.
Norway spruce (picea abies) is the most well-known of all Christmas tree varieties. It has become less popular in recent years due to its lesser ability to retain its needles but from a commercial growers point of they are an excellent choice due to their speed of growth, disease resistance and colour. If left to grow it would achieve a height of over 70m which would be one amazing Christmas tree. There of course would be someone willing to try and get that home on the roof rack of their Ford Fiesta.
You can plant into ploughed land or pre-treat with herbicide, just be sure to follow the instructions for spraying. Planting into pots is a good idea. Start with 2 litre pots for a couple of years, move on to 5 litres and let them grow a couple of more years and then put into a 10+ litre sized pot ready for sale at 5-6 years old. Depending on the age you sell them, this will dictate if you have to repot into a larger one. Taking the tree out of the pot and making sure it is not pot bound (the roots starting to grow around the pot) will let you know when to pot on if you have any doubt.
Our Norway Spruce fir trees do not like standing water. They will tolerate damp soils but not long term waterlogged or boggy conditions.
Other species of fir tree to consider (3mb download, provided by the BCTGA) when growing commercially in the UK are Noble fir (Ables Procera), Lodgepole Pine (Pinus Contorta Latifolia), Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris), Serbian Spruce (Picea Omorika), Nordmann Fir (Abies Nordmanniana), Blue Spruce (Picea Pungens Glauca) and Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri). All are grown in the UK by other Christmas Tree growers and are recommended by the British Christmas Tree Growers Association.
Deer are apparently not too much of a problem with their usual browsing habit. By browsing we mean their tendency to walk past and nibble not surf the Internet. The reason deer are not that much of a problem is because they generally do not like the taste of Picea Abies but in times of food shortage they can change their mind.
Trees shelters for Christmas trees are generally not used as it affects the ultimate shape of the tree as at least the first 60cm of the tree will be bare of branches. If you have a rabbit problem, you can fence off the area, use traps or shooting to keep the numbers down. Having spoken to the tree shelter manufacturers they say you could use them but it would be very unusual and of course your time to maturity would be greater as you need to wait a year or two before they grow out of the top.
Growth is best in full sunlight in deep, moist and rich soils (nutrient rich, not financially!) although you can still plant in clay and sandy soils but expect slightly less vigour. Picea Abies Christmas trees are generally shallow rooted and do not grow a tap root so in extreme winds in places that are unsheltered, you may experience some losses from being blown over.
Expect a growth rate of around 1ft per year but under ideal conditions e.g. sun, moisture and soil, you can expect more, sometimes up to 3ft but this is undesirable as the branches are too spaced out. If you experience high growth rates, best to prune back the leader and side branches. No competition from grass or weeds will also improve the Picea Abies growth rate. This can be achieved with chemicals or manual cutting or extraction. So for a 5 to 6 foot tree, your Christmas tree harvest could be ready in as little as 4-5 years.
Picea Abies Christmas tree needle retention is considered poor unless freshly cut and kept watered.
Other Christmas tree species, which we stock, such as Nordmann Fir, Fraser Fir, Noble Fir, Scots pine and Colorado Blue Spruce, are more needle-fast, so would perhaps be more reliable but take longer to mature.
Our recommendation would be that you planted at least three species, including Norway spruce. We suggest that Norway spruce is grown in a container in the ground 'pot-grown' so that when the time comes for lifting and sale its root system remains intact and provided it is well-watered in the house will not shed its leaves to the same extent.
Large, commercial Christmas tree growers cut trees weeks before Christmas, to meet demand and we wonder what 'freshly-cut Christmas trees' really mean! Therefore selling in a pot and the tree still alive gives you a selling point but an additional cost. Needles can fall of in as little as a couple of weeks.
As with other Christmas tree species, Norway spruce is planted at a spacing of 1 metre (3ft) between each tree, thus meaning that to plant an area of 1 hectare (2.47 acres) 10000 trees would be required or 4200 per acre. If you are growing several different species of Christmas tree, best not to mix them as growth rates differ. Keep the different species in different places.
Further details can be found by looking at the British Christmas Trees Growers Association website www.christmastree.org.uk.
Our Norway spruce Christmas trees are sold as plug plants, in other words the roots are encased in compost. This means that planting can be carried out at any time of the year, provided they are watered in periods of drought, compared to bare-root plants which can only be planted during the plants normal dormant period (November to March) and secondly plug plants have a higher survival rate than bare-root plants.
What Our Customers Are Saying About Our Norway Spruce Picea Abies Trees
Hi Alan, I just wanted to thank you for my delivery of Norway Spruce plugs. They were packaged perfectly and are brilliant little trees - very healthy and in perfect condition. Thank you very much indeed. Merry Christmas, Mike 1216
Hello Alan / Senior Dogsbody!! I just wanted to thank you for your email which made me smile .... our little Christmas trees are doing quite well, all potted up, and although they haven't waved to us yet I'm sure they will in the coming weeks ..... don't forget they are quite small. Anyway thank you for a lovely, funny email. Have a lovely weekend. Linda 0516
Just a quick line or two to say a big Thankyou....My Norway Spruce trees arrived in fantastic condition.....All been planted out....Will definately be ordering more in the near future.....Thanks again!! 0915
Dear Alan. Many thanks for the completion of my order which arrived here in Limousin. France this morning. The trees (Norway Spruce and Silver Birch) which appear to be of high quality are in good condition thanks to great packing and the excellence of your courier. Thank you for a first class service. Best regards Kevin Cokayne 0215
HI,We finally got our delivery of little trees and after 5 days of strongs winds have managed to get them all out and repotted. They all look great depite their long journey, fab packing job ! Attaching a picture . Thanks a lot and all being well, look forward to ordering lots more from you next year.Nicky M. 0215
Norway Spruce tree saplings arrived on time, which was great as they were a gift to my uncle as we always joke when going off to search for our trees every year. Robert Hegarty 0115
Hi Alan, trees arrived in excellent condition and are all now in the ground and looking happy so far - keeping my fingers crossed that they will cope with the wind in Caithness ! Thanks for a great service, I will definitely be back to order more trees in the future. Thanks again.Kevin. 1214
thanks for prompt delivery of christmas tree plants.arrived thursday as promised well packed and in good condition.excellent service........thanks again.......regards......steve.
Dear Alan, trees arrived bang on time,unpacked and planted,in perfect time just got them all in and now its raining but they all look happy, thanks for all the updates ,and a great service, best regards mike general dogs bodyPear Tree farm 0214
My Norway Spruce trees arrived safely yesterday lunchtime and have now all been planted out. I was very impressed with the prompt service and the good condition of the trees. I hope I do justice to them...this is my first venture into raising Christmas trees but all being well I may well order some more later in the year... Regards...Rosie Cherry 0114
Thank you for my Norway Spruce trees, they look perfect. They are to be planted by students with learning difficulties to raise money for a children's charity. We would like to give people a care programme. C.Wise. 1113
The Norway Spruce trees I ordered came on time, and in good condition. Thank you. Also had been delicately handled by the courier Thank you again K. Campbell. 1113
Hello Alan,Thank for your email, it made me chuckle inside! Yes, I have received the order (Picea Abies, Christmas Trees) as expected, your comment about couriers made me smile, albeit a wry one. Fortunately, on this occasion the driver was familiar with our location and made the delivery without any issues, unlike other couriers who fail so easily. The trees (Picea Abies aka Norway Spruce) have now all been potted up and all fifteen are sitting happily on the patio soaking up some Autumn sun. Hopefully they will all thrive and we will have some nice home-grown Christmas trees in years to come. Look forward to buying more trees from you in the future. All the best, Umesh 1013
The trees made it fine as far as you were concerned. I have been in Scotland all week trying to catch fish and killing things. I told our handy man cum gardener cum everything to expect the trees unfortunately my wife or housekeeper (his wife!) got there first and put them in my office where I found them an hour ago on my return BUT I have rescued them and dunked them in a pale of water so they are fine. Might just be an Idea to mark the parcel with Live Trees IN VERY LARGE LETTERS for idiotic wives housekeepers etc. 0913
Dear Alan, The couriers have performed well on this occasion, because the package for me has appeared in the requested place. I've had a quick look inside and everything seems to be there, although I probably won't be going through absolutely everything to the finest detail until I plant my Christmas trees just after Christmas. Regards A. Presland 1213