FLOYD, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia is the 7th leading Christmas tree producer in the United States, according to the Virginia Dept. of Forestry and Virginia Farm Bureau. While the holidays are when tree farms get the most attention, growing Christmas trees is a year-round operation.

“This one is not wanting to grow up as much as out,” said Sweet Providence Farm Owner, John William Houston.

Houston was cutting back a small tree, one of hundreds he grows on his 73 acre farm in Floyd County.

We have to plan eight years into the future at a minimum to make sure that we have trees that might fit demand,” said Houston as he walked tree lines on his farm.

Why eight years?

It is because Christmas trees grow at about a foot a year. Trees in the eight foot tall range are the ones in most demand. Farmers want to have as many of those on hand to sell when the time comes.

A Christmas tree top at Sweet Providence Farm (Photo: George Noleff)

Houston says Christmas tree farming takes an up close approach. That means inspecting every tree he grows on an individual basis.

“We have to go over each individual tree at least twice a year,” said Houston.

Each tree has to be trimmed, checked for growth, and inspected for insects and parasites.

Houston says the outlook for Christmas tree farmers is solid, and that it has been helped along by a return to traditional Christmas celebrations

“Things are looking pretty optimistic,” said Houston. “There’s a lot of demand here at choose-and-cut farms, because of sort of renewed interest amongst young families wanting to get their kids out experience getting a tree right off the field that it’s cut from.”

Sweet Providence Christmas Tree Farm near Floyd