Before planting the first tree a farm should develop a plan as to what the intended use is for these trees in the future. If the plan is to grow for “saw logs” simply follow good cultural practices and sit back and wait 60 years. If you are planting them for the Christmas tree industry then some decisions have to be made early on as to the marketing approach you will use. The term Marketing seems simple enough to understand. To most it is the act of selling a defined “product” such as the Christmas tree. Admittedly an elusive term, carried out to great lengths in this day and age. 

A grower’s plan should include the following tried and true basics of Marketing:

It is important to know who they are, where their located and what their Christmas tree preferences are. This should influence the specie of tree you plant, how many you plant and trigger some thoughts as to how you will reach these consumers. A lot of this research has been done and is readily available on the internet.( See National Christmas Tree Association) And your local association.

DISTRIBUTION (how do you reach this consumer?)

Choose and cut 

Allow people to come to the farm and cut their own tree.

Retail stand 

Take the product to the consumer in the metropolitan area and sell from a rented lot.

Sell directly to retail stands (Known as tree dealers because they deal with the public.)

Examples would be Garden centers, Fruit and Vegetable stands and others that show up only for the season.

Sell to Brokers 

Who in turn sell to the dealers.

Wholesale nurseries 

They sell to dealers, decorators and landscape contractors. Much of their function is offering availability and credit terms to the dealer. Also a very important outlet for dug trees for planting. (Known as “b and b”).

Mail Order 

Boxing up the tree and shipping direct to consumers at their home.

All or combination of the above


Pricing is a very personal decision and will change based on the theory of value added. It requires accurate record keeping of your costs, including family input of time and labor. Knowing your costs and adding a fair profit should result in a farm price for the tree. Keep in mind the risks of a long term investment, the cost of money, and how your prices affect others in the distribution chain. In other words if you decide to operate a retail stand make sure you add the profit figure that other local retailers add on to your farm price to make it worth their while when you set your retail price. And don’t forget how long it takes to replace your inventory. A benchmark farm price per tree should be set and then as value is added by the various ways of offering to the consumer a new “price” is established. Marketing in and of itself adds value. Example: You pay more for a pair of five pocket, button, wrangler designer jeans than you would a pair of britches.


If the trees are sold off the farm who arranges for the truck and who pays the truckers bill? In the past it was common for the grower to pay the delivery costs as an inducement in making the sale to a dealer. Not so today! FOB farm(freight on board) should be clearly noted in a sale agreement. This not only passes on an expense but transfers the liability to the shipper.

PACKAGING (Very much part of the defined product.) 

Christmas trees can be loaded on a car unwrapped or wrapped up with string or netting. Leaving the tree at the sales lot or by tractor trailer a tree has more value wrapped


How does the buyer of trees find your farm? How you advertise will depend greatly on your form of distribution. I will say however that computers and the internet have dramatically changed the ease in which a farm can get the message out as to what the farm has to offer at a fraction of the cost of conventional advertising. Advertising your farm and website is very effective for the sale of Christmas trees. Timing of advertising and having the website up-to-date varies with the type of distribution used. Selling direct to dealers starts in June.


Always be promoting the farm. Take advantage of ways that are not costly. Farm tours, as an example, consume time but not out of pocket expense. A few donations are good and are very effective if the media covers the event and donation with a press release.

The end result of all of the above is the successful sale. Do not forget to do what is called “merchandise the sale”. Very simply thank the customer for the order. And even if you do not get the order remember there is always another year. Not to suggest a Vaudeville act but to borrow their philosophy its best to always “leave the audience laughing.

You do not need to be a Marketing VP or have a sales background to be successful in this but you may need to build your confidence...I can help you with that and more. You can contact me @ 


A practical approach to all aspects of growing, marketing and retail sales

      Northeast Kingdom Christmas Trees