Christmas tree farms in decline around the Midstate

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Census shows there are significantly less Christmas tree farms in several counties across the Midstate.

It may not be as easy this year if you like to head to a tree farm to pick the perfect tree because more and more tree farms are going out of business.

“You have to have a little bit of love doing what we’re doing,” Lee Brown said.

Brown is the owner of Brown’s Christmas Tree Farm and started planting trees in 1978, but he couldn’t start selling them until 1986.

“You think you put a tree in the ground and in a couple years you go and cut it down. It doesn’t work that way,” Brown said.

On average, it takes seven to eight years after planting a Christmas tree before it is ready to be sold.

“You’re going seven years without any income at all but a lot of expenses and a lot of work,” said Frank Wickes, owner of Cabin Creek Farms. “There’s equipment that you can use, there’s chemicals you can use to mitigate some of the issues, but it’s a lot of work.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Census, the number of tree farms decreased in multiple counties between 2007 and 2012. In York, from 56 to 44. In Lancaster, from 66 to 41. Dauphin County was the only county that saw an increase by six farms.

“It doesn’t really shock me. I know several times when I was first starting, I just about gave up because of all the running into problems with diseases and all the work that’s actually involved,” Brown said.

Still, both Christmas tree farm owners said the demand is there.

“Christmas trees are a tradition, and we have people who have been coming here for 30-35 years, three generations,” Wickes said.

For a list of all of the Christmas tree farms across the state, click here.

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