What to know about getting a real Christmas tree in NJ
BELVIDERE — Now that it’s December, it’s time to get or start thinking about getting a fresh, live Christmas tree at a New Jersey farm.
He said farmers were concerned in July and August with the little to no rain the state experienced, but only young trees and seedlings were affected; some were lost. He said the seedlings will be re-planted in the spring.
But the mature trees that will be cut for Christmas look great, Dunne said.
What tree should I cut down?
The fir trees are the most popular, Dunne said. Those include Fraser, Canaan, and Concolor. Douglas fir is still popular but that’s on the decline.
Many like spruce trees like Norway Spruce and Blue Spruce. Others like pine trees like white pine and Scotch pine.
Dunne says the fir trees are popular because of their strong fragrance, great needle retention, bright, beautiful green color, and stiff branches for hanging heavy ornaments.
The fir trees check off all the boxes, he said.
What will a real Christmas tree cost this year?
The average cost of a tree this year will be $10-20 a foot.
“That’s a big range but there are a lot of variables depending on where you are in New Jersey," Dunne said. "The further you are to the urban areas, the more prices go up a little bit. Dunne’s farm is out in western New Jersey so their prices are a bit lower."
“Our prices are up about 7% this year,” he said.
Dunne said the major costs on his farm are fertilizer and fuel. The fuel is used for mowing and running tractors.
How do you keep a real Christmas tree alive for a long period?
“Fresh tree. Fresh cut. Fresh water,” said Dunne.
Be sure to come out to a choose-and-cut farm and cut the tree down fresh, he said. A tree that is bought at a big-box store or a grocery store was probably cut in early November so it’s not a fresh tree.
If your tree is not going up right away, make a fresh cut. Dunne said to cut about a half-inch off the bottom of the tree.
“What happens is when the tree is cut in the field, the sap seals the end of the tree and doesn’t let it take up water anymore,” Dunne said.
Once the cuts are made, keep the tree in fresh water. Have a stand that holds a gallon of water. Make sure the stand is filled with fresh water every day. Do not let it dry out, he said.
“If you follow those steps, fresh tree, fresh cut, fresh water, you will have a beautiful tree until the new year,” he added.
When is it time to throw the tree out?
When the tree starts dropping a lot of needles or when you brush up against it and the needles fall, it’s time to get rid of it, Dunne said.
Is there a tree shortage?
Dunne wants to make it clear that despite the news about a tree shortage, there is not one, at least not on his farm, which has been in existence for 35 years.
Now, people may not get the exact tree size they want or the species they want, but Dunne said most of the farms in the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association have plenty of trees.
Dunne's farm is one of the smaller Christmas tree farms in the state. He has six acres and 6,000 trees on his farm. He hopes to sell between 500 and 600 fresh Christmas trees each season.
Dunne encourages people to get out to a tree farm in New Jersey and shop early and he promises there will be a tree for everyone.