By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — People who sell locally grown Christmas trees said that this should be their busiest weekend of the season that began after Thanksgiving.
George Lundin, owner of Lundin’s Tree Farm in Otego said he first planted trees in 1984. This weekend he expects to sell about 250 of the 500 trees that he will sell for the season on the 9-acre farm. The Fraser fir are the most popular, because they have soft needles and strong branches better for hanging ornaments, he said.
Like other tree sellers interviewed Friday, he hasn’t raised prices, but the downturn in the economy hasn’t affected his business.
“It’s something you are going to have,” he said. For most people, it provides three or four weeks of enjoyment, so “there is a lot of bang for your buck.”
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there were 30.8 million real trees purchased in 2011. The total of artificial trees was 9.5 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture for 2007, the latest year that information was available, said New York ranked seventh in production with 348,000 trees cut from 1,154 tree farms with 20,267 acres in production. No. 1 was Oregon with 6,850,841 trees cut.
Lundin said the dry summer affected some of the younger trees, but the more established ones are fine. The season starts just after Thanksgiving and he will probably be closed before Christmas Eve. He stops selling when he reached the maximum so there will be a selection for next year.
“The best part is seeing the returning families. We try to be a full-service business,” including cutting trees for people when needed.
One person who cut his own was Rodney Thorsland, of Unadilla, who picked out a blue spruce, along with his wife, Sheena, and 4-year-old daughter, Amiley. They liked the tree for its shape.
Thorsland said he has come to Lundin’s for about 10 years. He said he likes the look of a real tree and the fragrance.
At Pie in the Sky in Otego, co-owner Janet Powers said all trees it sells are cut locally. She agreed with Lundin’s observation that the Fraser fir trees are the most popular.
The dry weather earlier in the year doesn’t seem to have had an effect on the trees.
“This weekend should be the first onslaught,” for the Christmas season, she said.
“We have been doing this for 30 years and been through other recessions,” so she doesn’t expect the economy will have an impact. People may conserve in other areas but the tree is an important part of the holiday, he said.
At Fox Hollow Nursery in West Laurens, owner Neil Monzeglio said he has about 10 acres of Christmas trees on his farm. The dry year will stress some trees, but Monzeglio said only the quality ones are cut. He grows several different types of trees, and said the balsam fir are the most popular.
“This weekend should be the busiest,” with selling going on for precut and cut-your-own until Christmas Eve, he said. “There are always some early birds and some last minute Charlies.”
At 51, he has been in the nursery business since he was a teenager, he said. “I love it. We have a good product. Its nice to be part of the family.”
At Hawley’s Tree Farm in Delhi, Mary Dirig said her parents have been in the business for 20 years. She said the Norway spruce is among her most popular trees.
“I remember planting trees as a kid,” she said. “It’s been a lifelong thing for me.”
She was expecting this weekend to be the busiest of the holiday season, with several hundred being sold by Christmas Eve. Last year was a record year and “this year should be right up there,” she said.