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Christmas tree farms prepare for busy selling season as heatwave not expected to impact trees

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Kasey GrattonMandurah Times
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Christmas tree farmer Tom Morgan at his Lake Clifton property with the first tree harvested ahead of his sales period.
Camera IconChristmas tree farmer Tom Morgan at his Lake Clifton property with the first tree harvested ahead of his sales period. Credit: Kasey Gratton

Last week’s sweltering heatwave isn’t expected to ruin Christmas for families planning to take home and decorate a ‘real’ tree this weekend.

Christmas tree farmers are gearing up for their busiest sales period when years of hard work into growing perfectly sized pine trees comes to a head when they are chopped down and sold for decorating and display.

Tom’s Real Pine Christmas Trees owner Tom Morgan, who farms pines in Lake Clifton, is preparing to start cutting trees on Thursday before they are sold in Wannanup, Carine and Bunbury for the next three weekends, while stock lasts.

Mr Morgan said his trees would still be in top condition despite last week’s heatwave, which he said would affect the trees only if they were cut down during the hot weather.

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“The thing about the trees is they get the winter rain and then they start growing in spring and summer, and they’re actually in their growth mode now,” he said.

“So if you had 40 every day for six months, it wouldn’t be too good. But a few hot days won’t upset them, no.”

Mr Morgan has been farming Christmas trees for about 35 years and started his business by selling young trees cut straight out of a pine plantation.

Since then, he has perfected the art of pruning and shaping the trees from when they are about two or three years old to get them into the famous Christmas tree shape before selling them when they are between four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half years old.

Mr Morgan said the popularity of “real” Christmas trees had gradually increased since he first started out and he expected sales to be steady again this year after several busy years.

Christmas tree farmer Tom Morgan with one of this year's crop.
Camera IconChristmas tree farmer Tom Morgan with one of this year's crop. Credit: Kasey Gratton

But he was also waiting to see if the increased cost of living would have an effect, with his 6ft trees starting at $120.

“When COVID came in, I thought it was going to be all over red rover,” he said.

“But no, people weren’t going away and we tended to sell more trees.

“COVID actually promoted the business, but now we keep hearing about the economic times and we’re wondering whether that will affect people this year.

“So I’m more worried about the economics of people being up against the wall, more than the weather.”

Wattleup Christmas Trees owner Scott Joynes said he believed his sales could be impacted by the financial strain hitting many people and potentially causing his usual customers to cut back on spending.

The dump truck builder by trade operates his business as a side income and has this year decided not to increase the prices of his trees, despite higher costs in growing them, because he was mindful of many families’ financial situations.

Tom Morgan only sets aside a few Christmas trees for his returning customers, the rest are sold in a market-style environment.
Camera IconTom Morgan only sets aside a few Christmas trees for his returning customers, the rest are sold in a market-style environment. Credit: Kasey Gratton

He said he hoped this would still enable families to still have some “little pleasures” this Christmas.

“I like to grow Christmas trees to make people happy, just as much as the fact that I like the money that’s involved,” Mr Joynes said.

“I do it to see the happy looks on people’s faces when they come and cut a tree down, and the thought of people coming and having to think about the increase in the cost of living and think about that with something that’s meant to be a fun part of Christmas — I just went no, for the sake of a few dollars that I might have lost ... a fair thing to do was to give people a bit of a break.”

Mr Joynes is gearing up for a big weekend and expects to sell all of his trees on Saturday and Sunday.

Like Mr Morgan, he was also not expecting the heatwave to have an affect on the trees but said he did “maintain a rigorous watering regime” to help get them through the past week.

Mr Joynes said he believed the extra hot conditions wouldn’t have an impact on the young trees on his farm if they don’t continue.

“Because it’s early enough in the season, there’s still moisture in the ground, because it is only November,” he said.

“If it was like this for the next 12 weeks, then yeah, I could have a problem. But it’s early enough in the season that they’ve still got plenty of water in in their stems to see them through for a little while.”

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