Kicking off family Christmas with the perfect tree

Randi Williams, Texas AgriLife Today

December 7, 2023

20231127_Tree_Farm_MM_176

Texas Christmas tree production continues to hold strong despite impacts from extreme drought, according to a Texas A&M Forest Service expert.

Fred Raley, Ph.D., Texas A&M Forest Service tree improvement coordinator, said he is expecting another year of high demand for Christmas trees.

“Christmas trees are usually planted through November and March, the trees being sold for this year’s holiday season were actually planted four years ago to reach the mature height of 6 to 8 feet,” said Stan Reed, executive secretary for the Texas Christmas Trees Growers Association.

Like many other crops this year, producers who were not able to adequately irrigate their Christmas trees saw that some of their crop struggled, but not enough to decline production.

“Although we went through extreme drought, we aren’t expecting a shortage in Christmas trees,” Raley said. “The trees that will struggle most are the trees producers import from the Pacific Northwest.”

Prices may vary depending on the size and variety of tree your family chooses.

“The Virginia pine trees are expected to be priced near last year’s tree prices,” said Reed. “We should only see an increase in precut trees being imported.”

Rocky Smith, owner of Holiday Acres Christmas Tree Farm in Manvel, said his customers will have 10-12 acres to go through while searching for their perfect tree.

“Each year we open our farm the weekend after Thanksgiving,” Smith said. “We had an amazing turnout with nice weather, and prices are exactly the same as last year.”

Christmas tree demand

“Since 2020, people have been searching for opportunities to get out of the house and create memories with their family,” Raley said. “Producers have taken this opportunity and turned their normal choose-and-cut operation into a fun family event.”

Turning this tradition into a fun family event has caused the demand for live Christmas trees to be high each year.

“Since we are expecting another year of high demand for live Christmas trees, make sure you purchase yours early to secure the perfect tree,” Raley said.

Producers are expecting a good sale season for trees.

“After a fantastic opening weekend, we are excited to see how the rest of the holiday plays out with our wonderful customers,” Smith said.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

A map of texas with many states

Description automatically generated

CENTRAL

Sporadic rainfall brought needed relief to some areas and helped wheat and oats. Regions that did not receive rain started to notice the negative effect on small grains. Temperatures fluctuated at the beginning of the week, but the warmer start provided good growing conditions. Colder temperatures started to set in towards the end of the week. Warm-season pastures were rapidly declining due to shorter days and cooler temperatures. Common winter broadleaf weeds were being observed and flourishing. Winter pasture for grazing was doing well. Most small grains had been planted. Winter cereal acreage was less than expected. Field work for other crops was being conducted ahead of the predicted rainfall. Hessian fly larvae were found in early planted fields and remain a concern moving forward in an isolated area. Many producers supplemented livestock with hay. Cattle remained in good body condition.

ROLLING PLAINS

Low temperatures fell across the district. Most areas have now seen a hard freeze, and with the cold front, only minimal traces of rain fell. Topsoil moisture was holding fairly well in most areas, but a good rain would be beneficial with traditionally dryer months ahead. Many producers were taking advantage of a good stand of wheat and turning out stocker calves. Wildlife were taking advantage of good wheat pastures and moving in on fields.

COASTAL BEND

Some areas received rain during the week, which helped improve soil moisture. Wet fields limited entry for wheat planting and fertilization. Some producers were spraying fields to control volunteer crops. Some late-season hay was baled. However, hay was limited, and producers were concerned about having enough to supply livestock throughout the winter. Winter pastures were progressing. The pecan harvest continued with yields being fair. Livestock were in good condition and auction markets were holding firm.

EAST

Drought conditions have improved in most counties. Panola County reported ponds and lakes were still dangerously low. Due to recent temperatures, warm-season grasses have gone dormant. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair. Subsoil conditions were adequate to short and topsoil conditions were adequate. Winter pastures continued to grow in many areas, providing much-needed forages for livestock. Hay supply remained low for many producers. Livestock were doing fair to good with supplementation. Wild pig damage was still being reported. Gopher and mole control was underway.  

PANHANDLE

Extreme drought conditions continued to affect crop and pasture conditions in the region negatively. Growers continued making good progress on cotton harvest and followed up on planting cover crops after they harvested warm-season crops. Any additional moisture from precipitation, including snow, will be highly beneficial for the early growth of cool-season small grain crops.

NORTH

Topsoil and subsoil were reported as predominantly adequate to short in all counties. Pasture and rangelands were fair across all counties. Overnight temperatures were below freezing, with warmer temperatures during the day. Some areas received small amounts of rain. Winter pastures looked good, and additional rain was ideal for plantings that had emerged. Livestock were doing well and continue to graze when weather permitted. There were no disease or insect outbreaks reported.

FAR WEST

Cool, overcast conditions were prevalent most of the week. Two small fronts brought the daytime temperatures from the mid-60s to the upper-40s and mid-50s, with overnights in the lower and upper 30s. The topsoil remained decent, and cloudy days kept the topsoil moist, but moisture levels remained short to adequate. High humidity and foggy mornings delayed cotton harvest each day until around noon. Cotton harvest was beginning to wind down, with only a few producers remaining. Wheat planting continued behind harvested cotton. Emergence was good where the quality seed was used, and good rains were received. Livestock were in fair condition. Rangeland conditions remain steady, with a slight decrease in vegetation during the winter months.

WEST CENTRAL

Temperatures around the lower 60’s fell across the district. Some areas received light rainfall over the weekend. Soil moisture remained in good condition. A few fields were being planted with small grains. A few cotton patches were being harvested, although most were shredded for insurance purposes. The early planted winter wheat was going well and in good condition. Pecan harvest was minimal. Cool season forages were emerging in rangelands and pastures. Producers increased supplemental feeding for their herds. Cattle prices at local markets remained high.

SOUTHEAST

Some counties experienced scattered showers and mild temperatures, which was good news for producers who planted cool-season forages. Rangelands and pastures were starting to go dormant due to light frost. Producers continued supplemental feeding their cattle to gain good conditions for the winter season.

SOUTHWEST

Dry conditions and limited precipitation continued. There were some improvements in rangeland soil moisture due to recent rains. The planted fields of wheat and oats emerged and looked good, but additional rain was still needed for optimal growth. Moisture conditions improved with scattered showers. Pastures were greening, although growth was limited due to cooler nighttime temperatures. Limited surface water and stream flow were a concern. Livestock responded positively to improved rangeland conditions in some areas.

SOUTHWeather conditions remained cool throughout the district. Numerous counties received 1-2 inches of rain. Rangelands and pastures were trying to grow, but more moisture was needed. Small grains were being planted and continued to develop under irrigation. The peanut harvest was completed. Fall vegetable crops continued producing. Strawberry planting was completed, and the crop looked strong. Producers continued supplemental feeding of cattle and slowed culling their herds. The beef cattle market reported below-average volumes but continued high prices for all classes of beef cattle. White-tailed deer, turkeys and doves were active and abundant th

Southern Livestock

More News

Cover Story

Largest wildfire in Texas history continues 

Texas A&M Forest Service encourages caution, prevention as wildfire potential increases over the weekend  The largest wildfire in ...
Columnists

Texas Trails

Tales of Old Tascosa Tascosa was the kind of Old West town where a man could get killed ...
Production

Rates are likely impacting producer interest in expansion

USDA’s cattle inventory report confirmed that the U.S. cowherd continued to get smaller during 2023. Higher input costs, ...
Feed & Nutrition

Minerals: Too much of a good thing

Minerals are an essential nutrient for beef cattle which means, like protein and energy, minerals must be supplied ...
Reproduction

Managing and developing young beef bulls

There are as many ways to feed and develop young beef bulls as there are seedstock producers. There ...
Crop and Weather

South Texas citrus poised for a comeback

South Texas citrus poised for a comeback By Paul Schattenberg, Texas AgriLife Today The Texas citrus crop quality ...