The thunder of approaching Christmas

A couple quick notes in an attempt at a quick post.

On the way into work early Thursday morning, November 3rd, I counted nine Christmas tree trucks heading in towards our local Christmas tree farms. Ever  since, the air resounds with the sound of helicopters and the house rumbles all day as the trucks barrel past going ungodly speeds to rush all those Christmas trees out to the masses. It’s really hard to get a decent picture of the trucks as most of them are traveling well over 70 mph on our windy country roads.

I’ve never felt comfortable enough stopping to watch the whole process (lots of rapidly moving equipment, yelling, etc.), but the gist of it is that workers go to the Christmas tree farm early in the morning, where they cut the trees and mass them together on nets. A helicopter then comes, picks up the net, and drops them in a truck, which then shoots the trees over to a central distribution center. There, the old needles are shaken out, the trees are wrapped tightly to prevent damage, and they are shipped off around the country. The distribution lots run until late in the evening. Their lights are visible are visible for miles around the surrounding countryside. It must be a very intense process to get all of those trees out so quickly in a very compressed amount of time. There are some decent videos of the helicopter process over on your local video-sharing platform if you’re curious.

Oregon is the largest supplier of Christmas trees in the US, producing almost a third of the trees that we see each year. In 2021, we sold about 3.5 million trees total.

There are still a few trucks shooting by as I write this, but the sense of urgency is no longer there. The trucks seem almost leisurely going by at a more reasonable 55-60 mph. And, I no longer hear the helicopters buzzing around.

In other news, our first frost came on November 9 this year. We’ve since had over a week with mornings in the upper 20s. Yet, our poplar stubbornly refuses to let go of its leaves. Hoping they will come off before we get significant snow/ice this year.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Kris P

    Oh my! I never realized what a beehive of activity the tree-growing communities must be this time of year.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      Us either, until we moved here. They’re still trucking. I have a feeling this is the last weekend. I think shipping stops around Thanksgiving.

  2. Anna K

    Ugh, for some reason I had really hoped that maybe we would have come to our senses during the pandemic, and realized that we really don’t need to put tree carcasses in our living rooms to achieve Christmas bliss. I like my Christmas tree as much as the next person, but it’s starting to feel like wholly unsustainable behavior.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      That’s a very interesting point. I think that many Christmas tree growers would say that the trees are a renewable resource that take up carbon for the 5-7 years while they are in the ground. ultimately, those roots left behind in the field are a carbon sink. Of course, that would be offset by the shipping (gas consumption) and potentially by the method of disposal. Chipping for mulch or composting would be much better than throwing in a landfill, dumping along the road, or burning, for example. I know Christmas tree growers would also point out that artificial Christmas trees aren’t recyclable. We have occasionally gone up the hill behind the house and cut a small tree down for the house. After the season has passed, we either chip it up for mulch or cut up the branches for erosion control or animal habitat. We don’t do this very often though because Christmas trees end up being a lot of work and they just don’t feel very magical to us any more. As a kid, I loved the potted Christmas trees that I could plant in the yard afterwards, but that depends on having a nice climate and not killing it with heat and drought while it is captive indoors.

  3. danger garden

    Helicopters!? Who knew? Well, you obviously. When I was a kid I cried over the poor trees cut down and left in the lots on Christmas. They were murdered and nobody even loved them enough to take them home.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      Yes, I can empathize. Nothing worse than being abandoned and left to slowly die out in the cold. I try not to think of this when I go by the compost pile or a giant cull pile at a nursery. I’ve been known to rescue plants from the garbage or to try and take cuttings from bouquets to keep a plant going.

  4. hb

    Helicopters–wow. They are particularly noisy. Good thing it’s not for long.

    Harvest time is a frantic time for all sorts of crops, all over the world.

    Interesting Funny the local Poplar P. fremontii is all gold here, but yours up north still holding on to some green.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      I think part of it has to do with the fact that our poplar tree is not native to the U.S. It’s a selection of Populus nigra, which comes from Europe. A lot of those European trees and shrubs don’t get the right cues here and their leaves stay green for a long time, long after our natives have smartly gone to bed.

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