Gathering around a Christmas tree with family to celebrate Christmas together is a tradition dating back to the 1500s. Since 1977, Mississippi Christmas tree growers have provided a large number of the trees used locally each year. In 1997, approximately 245,000 trees were sold with a retail value of $7.5 million. About 95 percent of production is on choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms. These farms are oriented to their local markets. The species of trees grown in Mississippi do not allow growers to market trees in retail lots nor to market trees to other states and countries.
Peak production occurred in Mississippi in 1985. We had 450 Christmas tree farms producing 330,000 trees. In 1997, the total number of farms was down to 170. A national oversupply of trees the past 10+ years drove most of our growers out of business. Surviving growers are very competitive and produce high quality trees at low prices. Production has crept up slightly since 1993 when production hit a low of 200,000 trees.
New species, especially Leyland Cypress, have breathed new life into the Christmas tree industry. Virginia pine has proven itself to be difficult to grow and only marginally profitable. Growers produce a wide variety of species to satisfy customers. For example, a small farm in central Mississippi sells three species choose-and-cut: Virginia Pine, Leyland Cypress, and Eastern Redcedar. In addition, the farm sells several species as living Christmas trees (landscape trees in grow-bags): Leyland Cypress (several varieties), Deodar Cedar, Burkii Cedar, Foster's Holly, Red Leaf Holly Hybrids, and Carolina Sapphire. Future production in Mississippi promises to be even more diverse in species and lean towards the living Christmas tree / landscape tree.
Choosing, cutting, and bringing home a real Christmas tree is a fun tradition for many families during the holiday season. Around 32,000 Christmas trees are sold in Mississippi each year! Whether you go to a Christmas tree farm or to a local retail store, you’ll likely be presented with a few options to choose from.
With rising prices everywhere, families may expect to pay more for their choose-and-cut Christmas trees this year. But that may not be the case. Mississippi Christmas tree growers faced some challenges in 2021 with weather conditions and price hikes for many of their inputs. However, many growers may decide not to pass those costs on to consumers of their choose-and-cut Christmas trees.
If you celebrate with a real tree, you’ll have to decide how to dispose of it once the holiday is over. You have some good options for recycling the tree instead of sending it to the landfill.
CHUNKY, Miss. -- The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted countless traditions in 2020, but it will not keep living rooms across Mississippi from featuring Christmas decor, nor will it deter customer demand for fresh trees.
In fact, business is booming at farms that have opened for the season, said Southern Christmas Tree Association President Michael May.
“Where are all the bucks?”
Several years ago, Larry Castle, formerly of Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP), and Steve Demarais of the Mississippi State University Deer Lab got together to discuss what could be done to address deer hunter questions and concerns regarding where bucks were going during hunting season. For years, Larry and his team at MDWFP would get questions from hunters who were frustrated with not seeing the deer they think they should be seeing.