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From Farms to Families: The U.S. Christmas Tree Supply Chain

Did you ever wonder where your Christmas tree came from? 

Unless you cut it down or dug it up yourself (like Clark Griswold), your live tree probably came from farther away than you think!  

From forests and farms to warehouses and destinations across state lines, our Christmas trees travel a long way to our homes. Read on to take a deep dive into the Christmas tree supply chain and why partnering with a reliable freight broker in Columbus, OH, New York City, all the way to California is a must to keep spirits shining bright.

The Christmas Tree Supply Chain

The Christmas tree industry makes jobs, covers acres of land, and extends across the U.S.!

christmas trees supply chain

Logistics for the Perfect Christmas Tree: From Farm to Lot

Let’s start from the beginning – of your tree. Christmas trees are planted in forests or Christmas tree farms when the soil and weather aren’t too cold or warm for the seedlings to grow. 

Top 10 States for Growing Christmas trees:  

  • Oregon 
  • North Carolina 
  • Michigan 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Wisconsin 
  • Washington 
  • Virginia 
  • New York 
  • Minnesota 
  • Ohio 

Typically this happens during early fall or late spring. It can take 15 years to develop a tree to a typical height (6 – 7 feet), but the average growing time is seven years.   

Once they reach the right height, the trees are cut down in late November or early December. Then they’re loaded onto trucks and sent on their merry way to stores, warehouses, and retail lots across the U.S. 

The Best Way to Ship Christmas Trees

How farmers grow their trees is important. But arguably the most crucial part of the Christmas tree industry is transportation and delivery. As live plants, Christmas trees must be handled with care during shipping, otherwise they won’t appeal to buyers hoping to find the perfect tree for their holiday season! 

The secret to delivering beautiful trees is ensuring they’re shipped as quickly and safely as possible. Live trees are prone to problems in harsh conditions. They can be sent by any transportation method, but the most common is via trucks which are most cost-effective, quick, and can offer protection during travel.  

So what’s needed for a successful Christmas tree shipping? Here are the recommended “best practices:” 

  • Flatbed trucks sound good, but…without enclosed protection, the trees are vulnerable to wind, snow, heat, and other forces of nature that can injure and dry out the trees. 
  • Instead, Christmas trees should be moved in a dry van or a temperature-controlled truck. Both options offer enclosed space to keep them shielded from the elements. 
  • Christmas trees must be placed in water as soon as possible. Hence, transporters need to limit pickups and deliveries. Too many stops between the initial loading and the final unloading point mean trees are more likely to dry out. And a dried-out tree is money lost. When planning trees routes, logistics companies must be extra careful to avoid add-ons. Expedited shipping options may be better. 
  • Track trees traveling on trucks! Knowing where a truck carrying freight is at any time is essential to the logistics industry. At EASE, for example, we use regular check-ins with drivers and GPS software to track trucks on the move. With this viability, our suppliers (those who are supplying trees) know where a traveling Christmas tree is at all times.  

Home For The Holidays: Delivering Your Family Christmas Tree Is An Art 

When the tree arrives at the lot or store, it’s immediately unloaded and placed in water to nourish it. It’s then given a place where it can wait until it catches the eye of someone walking by. And when it does, the rest is history. 

The next time you see a live tree waiting to be purchased, you’ll have some idea of how it got there. No matter where our trees come from, they all hold a personal story for each of us, because for this year, that tree is the central focus of the holidays in our homes.  

That’s why each tree must be handled with care: they’re destined to be a part of our Christmas memories forever.