How to grow a Christmas tree farm

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Farm-grown Christmas trees are beautiful in a home at Christmas. They are full and fresh, and they smell fantastic. People who start their own Christmas tree farm earn money while doing an enjoyable job. The start-up of a Christmas tree farm is difficult, requiring at least five acres of land, access to a back hoe and tractor, and other basic equipment. Once the land is cleared, the trees are planted and taken care of. At the end of five years, the owner begins making money from the tree farm.

Clear the area where you want the Christmas trees. You need at least five acres of land free for your trees. Remove all brush, trees and debris from the land, and till the soil. If you have a lot of trees on the land, have a company pulp wood the land. The existing trees may pay for the Christmas tree farm start-up costs. Rent a back hoe for clearing the debris from the land, and rent a tractor for tilling the soil. Doing this by hand is back-breaking work and takes a long time. It is worth shelling out a few hundred dollars for equipment rental.

Consult your local extension office and see which Christmas trees grow well in your area. Only plant the suggested Christmas tree varieties. Many Christmas trees require a colder climate, so if you live in a warm area, your tree choices are limited.

Get your soil tested by the extension office, and find out the necessary soil amendments for the trees you want planted. Each person's land needs different things added to the soil, but all soil needs compost, fertiliser and mulch added for faster plant growth. Add the amendments to the soil, and till it into the soil with the tiller.

Set up an irrigation system. Make a simple irrigation system using soaker hose pipes or have an irrigation system installed professionally. Either system work just as well, as long as the trees get the necessary amount of water.

Purchase necessary equipment. You need a lawnmower for mowing grass, a backpack sprayer for insecticide, a pruner for shaping trees, a dibble or small hand shovel for planting seeds or seedlings, a shearing knife for shaping the trees, moth monitors for monitoring insects, protective gear for your eyes and a mask for when you spray the insecticide.

Obtain a business license and sales tax license from your local county offices. Call the state tax office for specific information for obtaining necessary licenses in your area.

Purchase seedlings or seeds wholesale for your Christmas tree farm. Do this after getting your business license. You may need the sales tax number if you want the wholesale price on seedlings or seeds.

Plant seeds in starter cups in potting soil. Water the plants daily, and keep the seedlings in the cup until they are at least four inches tall.

Plant the seedlings nine feet apart down a row. Start a second row nine feet away from the first. Christmas trees spread out at the bottom of the tree and will take about two feet of space on each side of the tree. Spacing the trees this way leaves a five-foot row through the centre for a mower driving through.

Water the plants according to the instructions sent with the seeds or seedlings. The amount of water varies with the variety of tree you plant.

Plant a half acre or acre of trees each year. It takes five years before Christmas trees are ready for selling, so if you plant one row every year, you will have a continuing succession of trees. When you get to the end of the five acres, cut the first row of trees and replant new ones.

Talk to someone at the local extension office for information on insect pest management for your area. Different pests attack trees depending on where your farm is located. Ask for the preferred insecticide and prevention techniques that people use in your area.

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