Tree farms report brisk business
Customers not cutting back on family tradition
CAPITAL REGION The sale of cut-your-own Christmas trees got off to a fast start on Friday, thanks to mostly sunny weather with temperatures in the 40s.
“We sold more than 120 trees,” said Chip Ellms, owner of Ellms Christmas Trees at 468 Charlton Road in the town of Charlton.
“We were much busier than we thought we would be,” Ellms said. He usually sells between 50 and 60 trees the day after Thanksgiving.
The good weather and people’s desire to have a traditional Christmas seem to have pushed sales up this year, he said.
Ellms said having a fresh-cut Christmas tree during the holidays is “one tradition people aren’t going to pass up” despite the difficult economy.
Prices for cut-your-own trees range from $25 at remote, rural tree farms to between $40 and $60 at tree farms closer to the suburbs and cities.
“We were selling trees before Thanksgiving,” said Todd Kusnierz, owner of the Candy Cane tree farm on Route 32 in the town of Moreau. “We even sold some trees on Thanksgiving.”
Kusnierz said he and other family members have sold just under 100 trees this season.
“We will have three major weekends with wall-to-wall people,” Kusnierz said on Friday. “But we don’t mind; it’s hard to sell a tree in July.”
The Kusnierz family started growing Christmas trees on their 155-acre farm in 1960. At that time they grew only Scotch pines.
Now Kusnierz and other tree farmers in the region no longer grow many Scotch pines. He said they like white pine because they grow quickly. He also grows Canaan fir (a type of balsam), Douglas fir and Colorado blue spruce.
“This was an excellent growing year for us,” Kusnierz said. He and other growers said the wet July was perfect for newly planted trees — “ideal,” Kusnierz said.
Herman Castle of Castle Christmas Trees in Oppenheim, Fulton County, has one of the lowest-priced cut-your-own trees at $25.
“We are out in the country, way out in the country,” Castle said, which is one reason he charges only $25.
Castle has 30 acres devoted to Christmas trees, including balsam, Norway spruce and other types.
Castle said he’s not sure how the season will be. He said snow must be on the ground and weather clear before he starts seeing business coming his way.
“We got our fingers crossed,” Castle said.
Paul Sausville operates a small tree farm near his home on Raymond Road in the town of Malta.
“Sales so far are just starting,” Sausville said. “People are just getting into the Christmas spirit after Thanksgiving.”
Sausville, who is also Malta’s town supervisor, said he grows his trees as a hobby.
He said it takes eight or nine years to grow a nice Christmas tree.
Sausville also said the types of trees now being raised don’t lose their needles as fast as trees did 10 years ago.
He said the Fraser fir and the Canaan fir, both in the balsam family, can be cut now and will retain their needles through Christmas.
He said the Fraser fir are his premium trees selling in the $40 to $60 range while he also has some white pines that sell in the $30 range.
“The next weekend and the weekend after that and I will be all sold out,” Sausville said,
“We have a good supply for people looking to have a real tree,” he said.
For those not interested in going out and cutting their own, Sausville said, the Ballston Spa Rotary Club is hosting a Christmas tree sale of pre-cut trees at the Curtis Lumber parking lot on Route 67 in Ballston.
“They are really nice trees from the Adirondacks,” he said. He said the money raised by the Rotary goes back into the community.
The prices for these trees are between $40 and $60 he said, depending on size and type.