Evaluation of Christmas Tree Varieties for Northern MN
Jesse Hoffbauer of Duluth, MN received a 2000 grant from SARE to experiment with popular varieties of Christmas trees and determine whether they could grow in Minnesota’s unique climate. Jesse and his brother Derek, both have extensive experience is vegetable farming as well as in sales and production. The idea behind this project was to show young individuals how to make a living while remaining connected to the land.
The process began by measuring and clearing the land so that new trees could be planted. Once the larger trees were removed, a hydra-axe was hired to clear the brush that still remained. Research for this project began in the fall of 2001 by studying the survival rates for the different varieties of Christmas trees.
The Minnesota Christmas Tree Association also became involved in this project by providing some of the seedlings as well as labor. The planting was laid out in advance with a 4x random replication throughout the plot with several varieties of Spruce and Fir trees being dispersed throughout the ten acres.
The Hoffbauers found the survival rate of their trees to be about 80%, which was very reasonable considering the weather conditions they faced that summer. Jesse found that tree seedlings are very hardy and that even unfavorable conditions are able to survive. While the total impact will not be known for several years, they have found an increase in wildlife habitat as well as the addition of value to their landscape.
They will continue to work with The Minnesota Christmas Tree Association in order to promote their products and the importance of sustainability. They also plan on hosting the National Exotic Christmas Tree Association Conference in 2005 where they will perform an evaluation of the trees progress.