MINERAL, Va. — Despite the year’s erratic weather, Virginia’s Christmas tree growers are reporting a strong crop and are ready for the upcoming holidays.
“This has been a bit of an unusual year for farming in general and growing Christmas trees in particular,” said John Carroll, vice president of the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association and a Louisa County Farm Bureau member.
Carroll grows four varieties of Christmas trees at Claybrooke Farm in Louisa. He said a late spring frost in May damaged some of the trees, but most recovered.
He and other Central Virginia growers lost some newly planted seedlings during a mid-summer drought. However, “we have a beautiful crop for this harvest season,” Carroll said.
At Anne & Eddie Blevins Christmas Tree Farm in Washington County, Eddie Blevins said the early spring rains gave his trees a boost.
“That’s what the trees needed,” said Blevins, who grows Fraser firs on his choose-and-cut farm. “Some of the trees are pretty full of moisture this year, and they’ve got nice color and are real strong, good-smelling trees.”
Like last year, interest is robust, and supply is expected to be tight. Blevins said he started getting inquiries before Halloween—something he attributes to the pandemic and people staying home.
“They want something different to do, like setting up their trees and decorating,” he said.
Most choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms are open the day after Thanksgiving, and growers are prioritizing safety during the pandemic. Customers should check with their local tree farms for changes in business hours or practices. The Blevins farm will offer hand sanitizer and masks, and will limit large groups and maintain social distance.
Carroll said his operation is closed for choose-and-cut this year, but customers can order pre-cut trees and arrange pick-up by making a reservation online. He also is opening a retail lot in the town of Louisa.
“We are taking extra safety measures this year to protect our customers and staff during the pandemic due to the large crowds we usually have at our farm,” Carroll said.
“I think the 2020 Christmas tree season is going to be excellent,” he added. “Families are putting special emphasis on keeping important traditions alive during this pandemic, and the real Christmas tree is at the center of the holiday celebration.”
–Virginia Farm Bureau