This week marks what might be called ‘prime Christmas tree’ cutting season. At least, that’s the hope for owners at Kentucky’s 15 Christmas tree farms. Steve McManus, who operates Cathole Bend Christmas Tree Farm in Garrard County, planted some 20 thousand trees in 2004. However, it was another four years before any of that crop went to market.
“It’s a slow building process. There’s continuous maintenance that whole time while you’re trimming the trees and pruning them and working around them to keep the weeds under control and so forth in planting new varieties. And that entire time, of course, there’s really no profit no income what so ever for the first several years,” said McManus.
Since the original plan was to sell trees wholesale, McManus admits now he overplanted. When the housing market collapsed along with the need for landscape trees, McManus says he switched to the Christmas tree business.
McManus has found word-of-mouth is the best promotional method when selling Kentucky-grown Christmas trees.
“You know, I have refrigerator magnets which are my latest promotional scheme, which I hand out to all the new customers and they hand them off to their friends and that seems to be the best thing I’ve come up with so far is getting the word out.”
McManus isn’t sure about the long term stability of the Kentucky Christmas tree market. In his 50’s, McManus says he’s the youngest member of the Kentucky Christmas Tree Association. The Berea resident says many of the Christmas tree farmers are ‘pushing 80.’