O Christmas Tree

Sometimes it seems that demand impacting our lumber business is excessively influenced by seasonal factors. Tell that to members of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association.

‘Tis the season when the Christmas tree legitimately snares all the attention. We learn that the 2014 Grand Champion Christmas Tree crowned by the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association came from Northwest Plantations in Washington State. Their Noble fir took the blue ribbon, along with the honour of being chosen as the White House Christmas Tree.

Meanwhile, it’s understandable that the stresses of dealing with late Christmas tree shipments to market can be more disastrous than your average order of dimension lumber. We can only imagine the anxiety caused by recent news of shipments of the Tannenbaum destined for offshore markets reported to be tied up at Northwest ports.

But stories about the Christmas tree business are especially fascinating at this time of year. I like the one posted by Jack Hope some time ago in Mother Earth News, in which he relates his experience of getting into the Christmas tree business:

In April of 1959, when I bought my first 1,000 white spruce seedlings from the New York State Conservation Department for $7.50 and planted them on roughly two acres of my parents’ small, rocky farm in upstate New York, I thought I was planting trees simply for the inherent good of doing so – providing wildlife habitat, preventing soil erosion, assisting God with reforestation. So innocent was my upbringing in Hurleyville, New York, that I had no notion there was such a thing as the Christmas tree business. For in our town, whoever wanted a Christmas tree simply wandered into the woods and cut one. In those days little private land was posted against trespassing. And neither landowners nor tree-cutting Christians ever dreamed of offering or accepting cash money for one of the slim, six-foot balsam firs or white pines that grew in abundance on the fringes of every marsh.

But a mere decade after my first planting (I subsequently put in another 5,000 spruces, firs and Scotch pines), my 1959 trees had grown to five and seven and even nine feet tall and were starting to shade and crowd one another. My plantation needed thinning. Coincidentally – since by then I had moved into New York City to take a job – I discovered that late each November, hundreds of Christmas tree merchants descended upon the city bearing thousands of evergreens, parking their tractor-trailers along Broadway and bribing the appropriate police precinct, all to street-peddle six-foot Christmas trees to bustling and eager New Yorkers: Trees just like mine, selling for $10 to $15 apiece! I realized I was sitting atop a gold mine.
(Read more here)

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