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Author Topic: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?  (Read 996 times)

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Offline mf40diesel

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Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« on: September 29, 2017, 11:39:54 am »
Hello all.  Working on reclaiming a piece of land that was once pasture, then grew up, now bringing it back again. Tossing around an idea, which might not be feasible at all, however just thinking out loud here.

It is roughly 4 acres or so.  What would it take to plant some fir trees to raise to Christmas trees?  What are the amounts needed (like how many trees?)to be considered an actual farm? People always talk about the tax breaks to farms, what would they be? And would it really be beneficial?

Probably a lot of questions there really, sorry for that. Have some acreage, that maybe could turn some profit. While not hands off, by any means I'm sure, could it be a hobby that makes some of my land make me a little money?
John Deere 5055e, mfwd. Farmi JL306 Winch. Timberjack 225 Skidder. Splitfire splitter & Stihl saws.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2017, 12:03:28 pm »
I worked on a family tree farm as a teenager that one of my good friends still owns.  You basically spend money and wait 10 years to get started, then mow and prune and shape and plant all year to make a chunk of money in december that is very weather dependant. Also, ten years from now the local walmart that doesnt exist yet might be selling bailed $15.00 trees from china.

  This was 15 planted acres.  He has been trying to sell the place for about 5 years now.  If Ben hasnt had 200 bee stings from shaping all summer since we were teens id be surprised. 

Offline Riwaka

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2017, 09:53:17 pm »
and the cost of hiring a Delta Force unit for perimeter security during the Christmas tree season.
http://www.hngn.com/articles/52861/20141215/christmas-tree-thieves-wreak-havoc-maine-farm.htm

Offline clearcut

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2017, 12:14:44 am »
I used to consult for a number of Christmas tree growers, mostly with pest identification and control and marketing issues.

Christmas trees are marketed by wholesaling, retailing, choose and cut, and specialty.

Wholesale is a high volume, low margin business not really suitable to small acreages.

Retail, where you grow the trees, harvest them, and then retail them at an urban location is an option. Another high volume and low margin business, but less so than wholesale. Location, lighting, and competition are the key factors here.

Choose and Cut - invite families onto your property to enjoy the experience of picking out and harvesting their own tree. Location, access, and amenities are the keys to success here. Liability is a concern. Clean restrooms are essential to attract repeat customers. Repeat and word-of-mouth customers make or break this business. Related items like stands, wreaths, decorations, snacks, etc. often are needed to make a decent profit.

Specialty marketing targets a specific customer with species selection, size -(usually larger trees for commercial locations), pre-lit, or pre-decorated trees. Often set up, and take down,  and holiday lighting installation services are provided. Some growers sell through mail order. High margin, but low volume business.

Spacing, and number of trees per acre depends on your marketing strategy and equipment that you plan on using.

In all aspects of Christmas tree production, remember that you are not growing trees, but floral greens that people will bring into their homes and focus their holiday celebrations around. They should be as full and well shaped as you can achieve. They must  be clean with no spider webs or insects. The most successful growers spend a lot of time shaping their trees and diagnosing and controlling pests.

The product is perishable, and has a short retail window, mainly the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas eve, with those first 2 weekends being the most most important. Bad weather on either or both, and dad picks up a tree from a big box store on the way home from work.

As to tax implications, there are opportunities to expense, depreciate, and capitalize the costs of growing Christmas trees on your federal income taxes. You can usually work around the Hobby Loss rules (if you have only costs without income the IRS may consider your operation a Hobby, rather than a Business) due to the nature of the business having significant startup costs and a necessary long period to the first income. In all cases keep excellent records.

Someone from Maine will have to speak to farming tax breaks. It looks like a 10 acre minimum for the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law REFERENCE: 36 M.R.S. 571 - 584-A

     http://www.maine.gov/revenue/forms/property/pubs/bull19text.htm

Most states or regions have a Christmas tree growers association that helps with education, marketing, insurance, and sometimes seedlings and specialty equipment rental.

Best of luck with your project.

Offline mf40diesel

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2017, 10:58:02 am »
Thank you for the comments. Due to my main job, going to sea, I would only do it if I could sell to the smaller other guys in the area, for them to sell, for obviously a cut.  Depending on my schedule, I could be gone the whole season. With that in mind, I wouldn't want random folks on my land for my wife to deal with.

Just kind of an idea I've been toying with.

Not really sure how feasible it is.
John Deere 5055e, mfwd. Farmi JL306 Winch. Timberjack 225 Skidder. Splitfire splitter & Stihl saws.

Offline mf40diesel

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2017, 10:59:46 am »
A friend of mine grows trees just down the road from me. He has a ton of trees, I wanna say like several thousand in various states of maturity. Maybe I would offer a piece of my land for him to plant on....  but not sure I want to commit to that either.

John Deere 5055e, mfwd. Farmi JL306 Winch. Timberjack 225 Skidder. Splitfire splitter & Stihl saws.

Offline Don P

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2017, 11:52:26 am »
that is big business here, the local growers prefer to lease the land and use their crews to trim harvest and spray... think about this if you are living on the land. it is an ornamental, they are gonna spray it cause its spring and then at the first sign of trouble.

there are also contracts for white pine tips. they plant white pines and retain the rights to tip them for wreaths and roping for 7-10 years. after that the trees are yours to thin and grow out or clear and go again. they don't spray these. obviously much less money.

Offline mf40diesel

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2017, 02:02:28 pm »
Don P, just curious where "here," is? 

I've never heard of the white pine tip thing, but that doesn't mean much as I've not ever dabbled in this segment of the forest industry.

John Deere 5055e, mfwd. Farmi JL306 Winch. Timberjack 225 Skidder. Splitfire splitter & Stihl saws.

Offline peterpaul

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2017, 07:58:54 am »
Sharpen those machetties :) check this out 
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Offline Stoneyacrefarm

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Re: Thinking about a Christmas tree farm?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2017, 09:32:44 am »
Wow.
That guy is good. !!
I'd be all bloodied up trying to trim that way.  ;D