We have seen trucks loaded with Christmas trees on the highways for a couple of weeks. The Christmas tree is mainly a horticultural product planted, cultivated and harvested for the purpose of selling. Until about 50 years ago, the Christmas tree was cut in its natural state, and while some cutting of evergreens in natural habitats still occurs, most are grown on tree farms. In Minnesota thousands of acres are in production. Because many people enjoy selecting and cutting their own trees, a number of growers have opened "choose and cut" tree farms.
At one time, the balsam fir was harvested from native stands of trees. Because it is not very adaptable to modern methods of tree culture and is slow growing, the fragrant balsam fir, which once was the standard Christmas tree in our area, is now quite scarce. The balsam fir needs partial shade and cool, moist conditions for growth, but sunny, open sites are usually chosen by tree growers who plant pines and spruces by machine, approximately 1,200 trees per acre. Grasses and other weeds are kept down to provide good growing conditions for the small trees, and growers must watch for insect attacks. Scotch and Norway pines are popular, while spruces grown include Norway, black, white and Colorado blue. Pines take about seven to eight years to mature, spruces about 10 years.