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Iowa-Grown Christmas Trees: A Million-Dollar Business

Selecting a tree from one of Iowa's 100 choose-and-harvest farms can involve even the youngest family member. Courtesy: Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Assn.
Selecting a tree from one of Iowa's 100 choose-and-harvest farms can involve even the youngest family member. Courtesy: Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Assn.
November 30, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa-grown Christmas trees are worth a million dollars annually to Iowa's economy. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says tree farms make good use of land that might not be suitable for raising other crops.

"Most of the farms are just a few acres, but when you look at all the acres that we have across those farms, we have maybe 1,500 acres of Christmas trees in Iowa," says Northey. "Often they're in small parcels that are not very good to be able to use for getting large machinery around."

As the industry grows, he says, revenue from Christmas trees are now a significant source of yearly family income for some farmers.

Northey adds, most trees grown on Iowa farms are between six and 12 years old, depending on size and variety. He says those who get their trees from an Iowa farm can make the experience part of their holiday traditions.

"Folks will go out as a family and make it kind of an annual activity," says Northey. "And there's something special about a tree that you saw out with a lot of other trees, and you brought home and put your own decorations on it, and you know it came from Iowa."

The most popular trees in Iowa are Scotch Pine, with needles up to two-and-a-half inches in length, and White Pine, which is softer and has even longer needles. The Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association website has a directory of farms and their hours of operation, online at IowaChristmasTrees.com.



Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA