Tree farms aren’t built on the backs of Christmas miracles. It takes years of planning and praying that Indiana weather cooperates. It’s a tough business to get into.
But it’s a business Lance Sambol of Sambol’s Tree Farm in Fortville is happy to be involved with.
“It’s the experience of cutting it down that the families want,” Sambol explains, “and that’s what separates us from all the other places like the big box stores is you can only cut down a tree on a farm. You can’t get it any fresher than that.”
However, this year is a bit more challenging than previous years. Sambol has a tight supply of trees, thanks to a drought that hit his farm around 8 years ago. That’s about the time it takes to grow the fresh, healthy, giant green trees customers love to cut down and take home to decorate for the holidays.
“There is a little bit of a tight supply on the trees we bring in as whole sale trees to supplement our numbers, and there was a drought in 2012-13 that’s still affecting some of the large growers,” says Sambol.
So Sambol has had to order a semi-truck load of trees from a supplier in Michigan, which he says will be here in time for opening day. Even that particular supplier in Michigan is facing an issue – staffing. That supplier is down 18 people, which creates issues for Hoosier tree farmers as well. Back home, Sambol says there aren’t enough tree farmers in central Indiana. Sambol and the other members of the Indiana Christmas Tree Growers Association have to lean on each other, helping one another with tree supply.
Sambol goes in depth on how it all goes down on a farm.
“A typical farm will have 7 or 8 blocks of trees, and you sell the most mature block and the rest are all in stages of growth. I’ve trees we planted this spring that are a foot tall and I’ve got trees that are 8 to 9 feet tall. Those are the ones we will sell this year. There’s every size in between, but you can’t really go dipping into the trees you’re going to sell next year or you’ll run into a problem of not having the right size tree.”
Sambol says you should contact your local tree farm and ask about their supply. Make sure they have enough trees and the variety of tree you’re looking for. Some tree farms may even offer reservations.