- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The number of Christmas tree farms has declined in Nebraska and elsewhere across the nation.

Fewer people are establishing new Christmas tree farms, while current owners are retiring and selling their property to land developers, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1wROgSX ) reported.

Growing Christmas trees takes several years, about seven years for a Scotch pine and 10 years for a fir, said Don Spilker, owner of Spilker’s Pineridge Tree Farm in Lincoln. Few people want to start a new business and invest in trees and equipment when their first sale could be nearly a decade away, he said.

He and his wife began selling Christmas trees in the 1970s. The Nebraska Christmas Trees Growers Association had more than 50 members then, but now has fewer than 20, spokesman Dave Glass said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture, the number of Nebraska acres for Christmas tree production decreased by almost half in 10 years, from nearly 1,100 in 2002 to almost 650 in 2012.

National numbers also have seen a similar decrease. In 2002, the federal agency reported about 14,700 producers harvesting almost 21 million trees. In 2012, almost 13,000 producers harvested about 17 million trees.

Spilker, who will be 83 next year, said age is slowing him down and he is unsure how long he will continue to sell trees. He wants to pass the business on.

“I’d just hate to let all these people down that we have sold to for so many years. I’m afraid that time is going to come,” he said. “I’d love to help somebody, to get ‘em going because there is a good business here.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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