2017 - Volume #41, Issue #5, Page #06[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
A New Way To Grow Christmas Trees
“If you cut the stump above the lowest branch, that branch will turn to the light and become the leader for a new tree,” explains Elwood. “Customers are asked to leave 1 or 2 branches on the stump when cutting their tree.”
Originally Elwood tied branches into a vertical position. Today his son Phil lets the branch find its own way.
“The branches tip to the sky on their own,” says Phil. “If we dig out the old stump and replant, we have to wait as much as 10 years to harvest a new tree.”
With customers cutting around 2,000 Christmas trees each year, it is hard to keep new seedlings from being stepped on and crushed. That’s not a problem when the new tree is growing out of a stump.
With “stump culture”, as they call it, the Quinns have a new tree in as little as 3 to 5 years after the first cutting. After that, they get a new tree ready to cut every 2 to 3 years.
The secret to the fast growth is an ever larger root system. Quinn estimates approximately 75 percent of the cut trees will survive and about 50 percent will grow a saleable tree.
Practicing stump culture requires wider rows and tree spacings. The Quinns add 1 to 2 ft. to the normal 6 ft. space between trees and 8 ft. between rows.
“Customers wander the farm to select their tree and then signal an employee who brings a saw,” explains Phil. “They can cut their own or our employee will do it for them.”
The tree is tagged with the customer’s name, and it’s taken to the main building to be bagged or tied to a car roof. This also eliminates a customer finding a better tree and discarding one they had already cut.
Phil says they have gone pesticide-free on their Christmas trees for the past 4 years, something their customers appreciate. They apply compost to young trees and a foliar application of slow release nitrogen. The trees also get sheep manure delivered by a flock of Shropshires that graze the tree stands, also eliminating the need to mow.
“The sheep do a great job of keeping grasses and weeds down,” says Phil. “They leave the trees alone, with the exception being the white pine. The sheep love white pine, so we don’t graze them there.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Le Ferme Quinn, 2495 Boul Perrot, Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, Quebec J7V 8P4 Canada (ph 514 941-1510; www.quinnfarm.qc.ca).
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