CADILLAC – When it comes to the Christmas season, many families rely on their holiday traditions. For some, it is opening gifts and having dinner together. Others may consider taking a trip away from the snow. But for some families, it’s about finding and cutting the perfect Christmas tree.
In northern Michigan, Christmas tree farms are harvesting their trees and getting their farms ready for another busy holiday season.
At Duddles Tree Farms in Ashton, Erica Brook, daughter of one of the farm’s owners, Tony Duddles, said her family’s farm has sold over 1,000 trees and looks forward to another successful year.
“We hope to have a great year like we did last year,” said Brook. “We had a banner year last year… and we hope to be able to do it again this year.”
Since 1957, Duddles Tree Farms has grown and harvested all kinds of different trees for retail and wholesale. According to their website, the farm harvests about 100,000 trees a year for sale to distributors and consumers statewide.
Brook said the farm had trees of all shapes and sizes, including Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, Concolor Fir, Scots Pine and Blue Spruce, with prices of around $ 10 and up according to the height of the tree. According to Brook, Fraser and Concolor Fir are the farm’s most popular trees. Fraser Fir is a short-needle tree with a green / blue color while Concolor Fir has long, soft needles with stiff branches. Both trees are very aromatic, which she says is why these trees are so popular.
“These (trees) are both very fruity, orange-smelling type trees,” Brook said.
Brook also said the Fraser fir has branches which are great for hanging heavier ornaments.
For those who wish to fell their own tree, Brook said consumers can bring hand saws or chainsaws, and the farm can provide a handsaw as well. She said they also provide rope to tie up the trees and are ready to help if needed. She also recommended bringing the appropriate vehicle due to the field conditions.
“We suggest that you bring a four-wheel drive vehicle just because we can’t control the terrain conditions,” Brook said.
Antioch Tree Farm owner in Mesick, Wade Sherburne, has been operating the farm since 1986. Similar to Duddles, Sherburne said his farm sells Fraser firs, Black Hills spruce and Concolor firs.
While picking and cutting is not the primary focus of the farm, Sherburne said she runs a small business and allows some customers to come and cut their own trees.
“We’re doing (have) a little pick and cut operation,” Sherburne said. “What we’ve found over the years is that hardly anyone who comes here to buy an individual tree wants one that’s already cut. Most people make some sort of exit and they cut theirs. “
As Duddles’ Sherburne said the Fraser Fir is by far the most popular tree on his farm, with about 95% of all the trees he sells being a Fraser Fir.
“It’s a sweet needle tree and it’s very fragrant and very durable,” Sherburne said.
Depending on the size, Sherburne said people can expect to pay anywhere from $ 35 to $ 180, although the range is not set in stone. He said his farm provides customers with bow saws, but not chainsaws. However, customers can bring their own tools if they wish.
Since the weather is generally cold when people come to the farm, Sherburne recommended dressing appropriately and wearing proper footwear for walking in the fields.
“Because Christmas tree fields aren’t a perfect walking environment, they’re not flat like sidewalks,” Sherburne said. “So they have to be dressed appropriately for the shoes and for the weather.”
At McBain, Jamie Helsel Tree Farms offers many of the same trees as the two previous farms. However, owner Jamie Helsel said he also offers wreaths and garlands during the holiday season.
Started by his great-grandfather decades ago, Helsel said his farm has grown significantly over the years. With several different trees to choose from, he said the Black Hills spruce is his most popular tree because the needles aren’t as sharp and people like the green / bluish tint.
With his pick and cut operation, Helsel said his farm also provided saws and was willing to help customers. Although the farm has pre-cut trees, he said picking and cutting is the way to go.
“Choosing and cutting is a good way to go because you get a nice tree out of it,” Helsel said.
After bringing their tree home, Helsel said guests need to take care of their tree and water it so that it keeps its needles.
Like many other Christmas tree farms, Helsel said it did well last year and attracted a lot of new customers. As the holiday season approaches, he hopes for another successful season.
“Last year has been a very good year,” Helsel said. “We have sold a lot of trees to new buyers so we hope this year will be the same.”