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How to Start a Christmas Tree Farm

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Christmas Tree Farm

Fast Facts

Investment range

$4,250 - $85,300

Revenue potential

$80,000 - $120,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$76,000 - $114,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

Christmas is a time to spread joy! Wouldn’t you like to spread joy by providing Christmas trees that delight young and old?

With a Christmas tree farm, you could do just that, and make a nice profit at the same time. The US Christmas tree market has nearly doubled in recent years, which is why Christmas tree shortages are not uncommon. You could take advantage of all that unmet demand with your own tree farm!

No business comes without challenges, however, even one as simple as a Christmas tree farm. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide will give you all the insight and information you’ll need to put you on the path to becoming a santa-preneur!

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Every business has pros and cons, and they need to be carefully considered before you decide if a Christmas tree farm is right for you.

Pros

  • Good Money – Tree prices are up so you have more profit potential
  • Fun! – You get to be outdoors, smell that wonderful scent, and bring joy!
  • Eco-friendly – Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource

Cons

  • Seasonal – You’ll only make money for a few months a year
  • Competition – Many large stores sell Christmas trees
  • Time – Christmas trees take 8-10 years to grow to ideal maturity

Christmas tree industry trends

As many as 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the US each year, with about 350 million trees growing at any given time.((https://realchristmastrees.org/education/quick-tree-facts/))

Demand remains strong for real Christmas trees, yet supply is low due to supply chain issues and climate change.((https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/16/christmas-tree-shortage-because-of-supply-chain-issues-climate-change.html)) This is good news for small Christmas tree farmers, giving them an advantage over the big stores like Lowe’s and Walmart, which rely on traditional supply chains. It’s also good news because it’s driving up prices by as much as 25%.

Industry size and growth

christmas tree farm industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Christmas tree industry trends include:

Challenges in the Christmas tree market include:

  • Tight supply as trees need 8-10 years to mature
  • Climate change and natural disasters
christmas tree farm Trends and Challenges

Consumer spending

christmas tree farm industry consumer spending

What kind of people work in a Christmas tree farm?

An arborist is a tree doctor who treats tree diseases and other problems.

christmas tree farm industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a Christmas tree farm?

Startup costs for a Christmas tree farm range from around $4,000 to $85,000. The high end includes purchasing land for your farm, so if you already own land you’re ahead of the game.

If you don’t have land, you could potentially enter a sharecropping agreement with a landowner. That means that you would essentially be a tenant of the landowner, grow your trees, and split the income.

What equipment do you need for a Christmas tree farm?

You’ll need a handful of items to launch your Christmas tree farm successfully. Here’s a list to help you get started:

  • Tractor (or you can pay a farmer to prep your land)
  • Mower
  • Pruning shears
  • Harvesting equipment
  • Tree balers
  • Trucks or trailers for transportation
  • Irrigation equipment
Startup CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Licenses and permits$200 - $300$250
Insurance $100 - $300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup $1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Down payment for land$0 - $75,000$37,500
Equipment such as tractor$2,000 - $5,000$3,500
Land preparation$500 - $1,000$750
Seedlings$100 - $200$150
Total$4,250 - $85,300$44,775

How much can you earn from a Christmas tree farm?

Setting aside the cost of farmland, the cost to grow a single tree is about $1, while the same tree can be sold for about $80, resulting in a more than 95% profit margin.

With 10 acres, after 8-10 years you could produce 1,000 trees. Assuming they all sell, you would bring in $80,000 in annual revenue and $76,000 in profit. As your brand gains recognition, you could add acreage and sales could climb to 1,500 trees a year. With expected annual revenue of $120,000, you would make about $114,000.

christmas tree farm business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a Christmas tree farm. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Land – Acquiring land if you don’t already have it
  • Location – Your land must be convenient for a large market of people
  • Time – It takes 8-10 years for the trees to mature

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
How to Start a Christmas Tree Farm

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a Christmas tree farm, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research your area for Christmas tree farms and identify which types of Christmas trees are most popular. Right now, in many areas the most popular types are firs and blue spruce. You’ll need to find out which trees grow best in the climate and soil type of your area, and then determine what trees you want to grow.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in one type of tree.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.

What? Determine your products

In addition to trees, you could increase your revenue by selling other items. If you have enough land, you could even grow other types of trees and plants so that your business is less seasonal. Additional products might include:

  • Wreaths
  • Poinsettias
  • Christmas blankets and stands
  • Tree decorations
  • Christmas lights and other decorations

How much should you charge for Christmas trees?

The cost of a live Christmas tree is between $65 and $95 with the average tree costing around $80. Your costs of growing and selling your trees should be very low, so your profit margin will be quite high.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be broad, but it will be mainly families who celebrate Christmas. You’re more likely to reach families on a site like Facebook, rather than on Instagram.

Where? Choose your Christmas tree farm location

Here are the factors to consider when selecting the ideal location for a Christmas tree farm:

  1. Climate and Soil Conditions: Different types of Christmas trees thrive in various climates and soil conditions. Research the types of trees you want to grow and ensure the chosen location has the suitable climate and soil.
  2. Size of the Land: The size of your farm should be sufficient to grow the number of trees you plan to sell, allowing enough space for each tree to mature and for customers to comfortably browse.
  3. Layout and Terrain: The terrain should be suitable for growing trees and safe for customers to walk around. Consider the ease of navigating the farm, especially if families with children will be visiting.
  4. Water Availability: Adequate water supply is crucial for healthy tree growth. Ensure the location has a reliable water source or the capacity to set up an irrigation system.
  5. Regulations and Zoning: Check local zoning laws and regulations related to agriculture and commercial activities. Ensure that the location is zoned for agricultural use and that you can legally operate a Christmas tree farm there.
  6. Environmental Impact: Assess the environmental impact of your farm. Sustainable practices not only protect the environment but can also be a selling point for eco-conscious customers.

If your farm is in a location that’s convenient for a lot of people, you won’t need a commercial space. If you are in a more rural area, you may need to rent out part of a parking lot or other outdoor space for your stand. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe.

christmas tree farm business rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Christmas Tree Farm Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
  • The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “Christmas trees” or “holiday trees,” boosts SEO
  • Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Holly Jolly Tree Co.” over “Blue Spruce Forest” or “White Spruce Acres”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion

Discover over 340 unique Christmas tree farm name ideas here. If you want your business name to include specific keywords, you can also use our Christmas tree farm business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Christmas Tree Farm Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: A concise overview of the Christmas tree farm business, highlighting key elements such as goals, target market, and financial projections.
  • Business Overview: An introduction to the Christmas tree farm, including its mission, vision, and the unique aspects that set it apart in the market.
  • Product and Services: Description of the types of Christmas trees offered, additional products (e.g., wreaths), and any services provided, emphasizing quality and variety.
  • Market Analysis: Examination of the demand for Christmas trees in the target market, demographic trends, and consumer preferences during the holiday season.
  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluation of other Christmas tree farms in the area, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to inform the business strategy.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting and selling Christmas trees, encompassing pricing, promotions, online presence, and partnerships with local businesses.
  • Management Team: Introduction to the individuals responsible for running the Christmas tree farm, highlighting their relevant experience and roles in the business.
  • Operations Plan: Detailed explanation of the day-to-day operations, including sourcing and planting trees, maintaining the farm, and managing customer interactions.
  • Financial Plan: Overview of the financial aspects, including startup costs, revenue projections, and budgeting for expenses, providing a clear picture of the business’s financial viability.
  • Appendix: Supplementary materials, such as permits, legal documents, and additional research data, supporting the information presented in the business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to Christmas tree farms.

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your Christmas tree farm will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship, you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.govto learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a Christmas tree farm. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a Christmas tree farm requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your Christmas tree farm as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.

You might want to use industry-specific software, such as Hectre, conservis, and Granular, to manage your harvests, sales, inventory, and more.

Accounting 

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Marketing

For your Christmas tree farm, the marketing strategy should focus on highlighting the festive experience of choosing a tree, the quality and variety of your trees, and the joy of traditional holiday activities. Emphasize the family-friendly environment, the freshness of your trees, and any additional holiday attractions or services you offer. Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

Kickstart Marketing

  • Professional Branding: Ensure your branding captures the spirit of the holiday season and the natural beauty of your trees, from your logo to your signage.
  • Direct Outreach: Network with local community groups, schools, and businesses to promote group visits or special events at your farm.

Digital Presence and Online Marketing

  • Professional Website and SEO: Develop an inviting website that showcases your farm, tree selection, and any additional holiday attractions or services. Implement SEO best practices to optimize your site for local search terms related to Christmas trees, holiday experiences, and family activities.
  • Social Media Engagement: Use platforms like Instagram and Facebook to share beautiful images of your farm, customer experiences, and updates about your holiday events and offerings.

Content Marketing and Engagement

  • Holiday Blog: Share posts about tree care, decorating tips, and the traditions of Christmas tree farming.
  • Customer Stories and Reviews: Feature testimonials and photos from families enjoying their time at your farm and their chosen trees.
  • Educational Content: Create informative content about different types of Christmas trees, tips for maintaining them, and fun holiday craft ideas.

Experiential and In-Person Engagements

  • On-Farm Events: Host holiday-themed events, such as tree-lighting ceremonies, visits from Santa, or craft fairs, to draw visitors to your farm.
  • Family-Friendly Activities: Offer hayrides, hot cocoa stands, and holiday photo spots to enhance the tree-buying experience and encourage families to spend more time at your farm.

Collaborations and Community

  • Partnerships with Local Businesses: Collaborate with local businesses for cross-promotion, such as bundling tree purchases with discounts at local stores or restaurants.
  • Community Involvement: Participate in local holiday parades, festivals, and markets, and consider donating trees to community centers or charities.

Customer Relationship and Loyalty Programs

  • Loyalty Discounts: Offer returning customers discounts or early access to select their trees.
  • Referral Rewards: Implement a referral program to encourage customers to bring friends and family to your farm.

Promotions and Advertising

  • Targeted Local Advertising: Use local newspapers, radio stations, community boards, and online platforms to promote your farm to the local community.
  • Email Marketing: Send out newsletters with updates about tree availability, upcoming events, and special offers to keep your audience engaged.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your Christmas tree farm meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its strong USP: “Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your Christmas tree farm could be:

  • Spruce up your holidays with a Spruce tree
  • Christmas trees and all the décor – one-stop shopping on a farm
  • Doesn’t get any fresher than fresh cut!
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a Christmas tree farm, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in Christmas tree farms for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in Christmas trees. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

You may not need any employees since Christmas trees require very little maintenance. But as your business grows, you may need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a Christmas tree farm would include:

  • Laborers – Help with farm maintenance
  • Clerks – To sell the harvested trees
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.

Step 13: Run a Christmas Tree Farm – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Demand for real Christmas trees has been growing steadily, despite the many artificial options. For many people, nothing beats that fresh pine scent. Besides, real trees are biodegradable and better for the environment than plastic trees.

Since Christmas trees can be hard to find right now, if you get started right away you can help fill that gap when your first harvest comes in. While waiting, there are many other things you can do in your Christmas tree farm.

You’ve done the right thing by seeking guidance, and you’re now ready to start your sleigh ride to Christmas tree success!

Christmas Tree Farm Business FAQs

Is Christmas tree farming hard?

Christmas trees require very little maintenance once you’ve prepped the land and planted them. In the right soil and climate, they grow very well on their own, though it does take 8-10 years for the trees to grow to maturity.

How profitable is a Christmas tree farm?

It’s seasonal, but profit margins for Christmas trees are high. The average price of a tree is about $80. If you have 20 acres, you could grow 2,000 trees and make upwards of $150,000 in a season.

How does a Christmas tree farm help the environment?

A Christmas tree farm can help the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, preventing soil erosion, providing habitat for wildlife, promoting sustainable farming practices, and filtering rainwater to protect water quality. These benefits are due to the fast-growing evergreen trees planted in the farm, which hold soil in place, sequester carbon, and provide shelter and food for wildlife. Overall, a well-managed Christmas tree farm can have significant environmental benefits.

How long does it take to start a Christmas tree farm?

You can start growing trees quickly. You just need land, some land preparation, and some seedlings. They do, however, take 8 – 10 years to mature.

How many acres is needed for a Christmas tree farm?

As a rough estimate, a small-scale operation that aims to grow 1,000 trees per year may need around 1 to 2 acres of land, while a larger operation that aims to grow tens of thousands of trees per year may need 10 to 20 acres or more. However, this can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances and goals of the farm.

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How to Start a Christmas Tree Farm