With Christmas just a few weeks away, we wanted to explore the trends in Christmas trees. More specifically, this week’s post dives into the USDA’s 2014 Census of Horticultural Specialties to share five Christmas tree facts.
1) 20 Million Trees Per Year, But Trending Lower
In 2014, 3,386 U.S. Christmas tree farms harvested 19.9 million Christmas trees. Given it takes several years to grow a Christmas tree (an average of seven years), there are hundreds of millions of Christmas trees growing at any given time. In 2014, 160 million trees were growing on 178,000 acres; or 900 trees per acre.
When producers were asked about the timeline for harvesting their tree inventory, a downward trend was observed (figure 1). For 2017, 19.7 million trees were expected to be harvested, down slightly from recent years. By 2021, however, only 17.5 million trees are expected, a 12% decline from 2014 levels.
Figure 1. Expected Number of Christmas Trees Harvested. Source: 2014 Census of Horticultural Species.
2) Most Christmas Trees are Sold Wholesale
Across the country, farms reported only 13% of their harvested Christmas trees were retail-sold.
In terms of dollars, however, direct, retail sales account for a much larger share. In 2014, more than one-third (36%) of the value of Christmas tree production was from retail sales.
3) Mostly Grown in North Carolina and Oregon
While Christmas trees are raised in a lot of places, two states stand out. Oregon and North Carolina are the nation’s top Christmas tree producers and, respectively, accounted for 43% and 28% of total tree production in 2014. Combined, they account for 71% of total U.S. grown Christmas trees.
Michigan (7% of total trees harvested) and Pennsylvania (4%) are the third and fourth largest producers.
4) The Most Popular Tree…
Three species dominate the Christmas trees raised in the U.S. (Figure 2). The most popular is the Fraser Fir and accounts for 39% of all trees harvested in 2014. The Nobel Fir (24%) and Douglas Fir (20%) are also quite popular. Combined, these three trees accounted for 83% of the harvested trees in 2014.
Figure 2. Share of Christmas Trees Harvested, by Species. Source: 2014 Census of Horticultural Species.
5) The Most Expensive Tree…
Considering only the Christmas tree retailed by farms, figure 3 shows the average farm-retail value of the trees by various species. The most expensive trees were the Colorado Blue Spruce ($45) and Leyland Cypress ($47). At lower price points were the Noble Fir ($23) and Grand Fir ($30).
Across all U.S., the average price for farm-retailed trees was $36.34. The average price for a tree sold wholesale was $15.65.
Figure 3. Farm-Retail Prices of Christmas Trees, by Species. Source: 2014 Census of Horticultural Species.