Home Button
Culture Button
Commerce Button
Islanders Button
Transportation Button
Environment Button
Services Button
Perspective Button
Site Map ButtonGallery Button
Bibliography Button
Credits Button

Christmas Trade Header

Prince Edward Islanders purchased approximately 18,000 Christmas trees in 1998. Over 80 percent of these were grown on the Island. Some Island growers export their trees to areas such as Puerto Rico and Boston. While approximately half of North Americans own artificial Christmas trees—a popular trend during the 1960s and 1970s—many fewer Islanders tend to assemble the plastic and metal faux trees in their homes during the holiday season. The combination of commitment to tradition and a cultural closeness to the land inspire many Islanders to erect a locally-grown, aromatic fir.

There are 35 Christmas tree growers in Prince Edward Island. Approximately 15 of these are growing and selling their trees, while the lots belonging to the remaining twenty have yet to reach maturity. Most of the small Christmas tree operations sell directly to consumers, whereas the larger growers tend to wholesale to distributors.

Island producers grow almost exclusively (95 percent) balsam fir. The remainder is made up of various pine species. Tree-growing is a labour-intensive activity that involves a long-term commitment; it takes an average of ten years for a tree to get from seedling to living room. Throughout these ten years, the trees require constant protection and care. Seedlings are planted in rows spaced far apart. In the fifth or sixth year, the trees are pruned (the lower branches removed) to give the tree shape and fullness. Sheering (cutting the tips to encourage bushiness) is done by hand using knives or hand sheers. Weed control is a special challenge. This is accomplished by mowing or herbicide application or by planting a low-growing cover-crop, such as clover, to control weeds and improve soil. Mice and rabbits can kill young seedlings while insects, disease and fire are of constant concern. The fir’s dark green colour and long needles also require diligent application of fertilizer to the soil.

The two months leading up to Christmas are hectic times for tree farmers. The larger operations harvest their trees and sell them to wholesalers who then distribute them to retailers. Other direct sellers operate tree “U-picks” that give buyers the opportunity to make their Christmas tree selection into a family excursion, complete with a stroll through the woods and perhaps a picnic among the firs.

Demonstration Woodlots | Wood Products