Plantyard.org spent the entire Easter weekend sowing Christmas Trees (Nordmann Fir variety) in East Galway . For those interested in getting into this occupation here’s a couple of things to know before you take the plunge. The Nordmann Fir is reputedly what 80% of the market demands hence this choice. These are the main facts I needed to know before we started:
They take between 7 and 10 years to mature before you can sell them
You can grow 1800 trees on 1 acre (spacing is 5ft apart) but you’ll need an acre every year sow you can consistently
Soil quality is key – We got our soil tested for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and pH Levels. Trees had grown here in the past but was very peaty in spots so we couldt take any risks. It turns out we were extremely low in potash so had to buy a quantity of “Sulphate of Potash” which cnsists on 45% potash. Using 0-7-30 (30% potash would suffice thereafter but not initially if low.) Im told trees mop up potash to thrive!. The soil test costed us 110 Euros but I felt this was a bit outrageous. We are thinking about offer the service in this website for €20-30 Euros. email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hard Work – We had a machine to make the holes but manually planted 1500 trees. Do not under estimate this work. It is ferocious. You need to care for these trees all year round. Please do not under estimate the work involved.
Risky Business – Your banking on there to be a demand for Christmas trees in 8-10 years. A source told me alot of people do it the first year when they see a demand and don’t follow up the second year. This causes a glut of trees one year and a demand the next. (or a glut for a couple of years bring prices down).
Cost – I bought plants for 60 cent each (€900 outlay) , Couple that with planting costs, land rental if the case maybe, fertiliser, Weeding, Trimming and Harvesting & Marketing. The price you see at Christmas is nowhere near what the grower makes.
Advice – There is a group you can join – http://www.christmastreesireland.com/ I havent joined yet but intend to – They still offered my alot of advice and I bought my trees of one of there guys who was more than happy to take me through the process and the pitfalls.