Selecting a live Christmas tree each year is a beloved family tradition for many. But, have you ever wondered where those trees come from? For Home Depot customers, the answer is simple – local tree farms.
Home Depot works with several tree suppliers in the U.S. and Canada to bring local trees to nearby stores, with the majority of suppliers located in North Carolina, Oregon, Michigan and Washington State. With local tree suppliers across North America, the process for cultivating and harvesting the perfect Home Depot Christmas Tree you pick out this year is unique to your region – practices on the west and east coasts vary to ensure the freshest tree quality in different environments across the country.
At one of the company's local tree suppliers on the west coast, Holiday Tree Farms outside of Corvallis, Ore., millions of Christmas trees are grown each year in a tradition that was established in 1955. Today, three generations of family and experts in arboriculture, silviculture and forestry carry the farm’s 60-year tradition of tree farming forward. Dale Stephens and Greg Rondeau of Holiday Tree Farms walked us through the multi-year process that brings local, fresh-cut trees to Home Depot stores.
Every Christmas tree starts as a seed gathered by hand from the wild or from managed tree orchards. Seedlings are watered, fertilized and cared for in the nursery until they’re about six inches tall.
Then it’s off to the bare root transplant nursery where they live another entire growing season.
Trees are about two years old when they graduate to the big leagues – the tree fields. Christmas tree will grow in the fields anywhere from five to nine years.
Trees grow about one foot per year. To grow into that perfect Christmas tree shape, growers go through a process called culturing each year.
“Culturing is all about creating the perfect Christmas tree – the perfect shape, top, color and branching,” said Greg. “It’s a big process here each year and can take about six months.”
The final step in the tree’s trip from the field to your home is the harvest. Starting in November, selected trees are flagged, cut and bundled.
On the west coast, trees are lifted by helicopter to waiting trucks. At Holiday Tree Farms in Oregon, 7 helicopters are used to harvest a million trees in only 30 days.
The process is so quick, that once cut, a tree can be available for purchase in your local Home Depot store in only 3 or 4 days.
“In my time being here, I have produced from seed probably more than 30 million trees. It’s a good feeling to know that you’ve touched that many lives through Christmas,” said Dale.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Built from Scratch on December 4, 2015.