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Christmas Tree Farms

December 15, 2011 by staff 

Christmas Tree Farms, The sweltering, shirt-soaking days of July have little to do with Christmas, unless you’re Macey White. White breaks out the pruning shears each July and goes to work on trees dotting seven acres of his farm to sculpt each into the perfect Christmas tree. Come the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas tree hunters head to White’s farm to find a tree for the living room.

On those muggy July mornings, White reports to work around 5 a.m. and puts in a couple of hours, he said. “I like to get out here and start the new ones to shape them up the right way,” White said. White has been selling Christmas trees from his Middlesex County farm since 1995. He got his start in the Christmas tree business in 1985, when he planted trees while looking ahead to his retirement.

White worked for Southern States Cooperative for 40 years and it was while living in Baltimore, Md., that Christmas trees first piqued his interest.

His son’s Boy Scout troop started selling Christmas trees in the 1960s and 1970s and he began thinking that would be a nice retirement project on the farm he was inheriting from his father.

“I didn’t want to grow corn and wheat,” White said. “I just thought that this would be something I like.”

White says the Suffolk sandy loam soil on his farm is ideal for growing Christmas trees.

He purchases some seedlings – about two years old and 18 inches tall – from the Virginia Forestry Nursery in Augusta County. He procures others from sources in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Georgia.

The trees grow for six to eight years before they are ready to be harvested. Among the varieties White grows are white pines, Norway spruce, Canaan firs, blue ice cypress, Leyland cypress and cedars.

“After they get going we limit these trees to a foot a year,” White said. “We shear ‘em back.”

White has learned the particulars of the different varieties of trees, including where and when to prune and which trees can handle wet soil, such as pines, spruces and cypresses.

“Firs will not,” White said.

The Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association lists 50 farms in the state that sell Christmas trees and have websites, but White’s is the only operation on the Middle Peninsula.

Tree farms sizes range from less than an acre to more than 1,000, with an estimated 7 million Christmas trees growing every year in the state, according to the association.

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