That’s the message from Christmas tree growers across the UK, as the industry gears up for its busiest season ever.
Already, early orders for UK trees from garden centres and farm shops are significantly ahead of 2019 and this year’s sunny weather means they are in better condition than ever before. Covid-19 has led to many growers changing the way they sell, introducing online sales for the first time as well as social distancing measures for those who want to visit their local plantation to enjoy the experience of choosing their tree.
The British Christmas Tree Growers Association, (BCTGA) has 320 members nationally. The BCTGA is now being managed by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS) based at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate.
Heather Parry, Managing Agent for BCTGA, said: “Christmas will certainly be different this year but we are here to spread the message that it is definitely not cancelled. “It’s more important than ever before that we support our local growers who are now busy doing last minute trimming and labelling of trees for sale for their biggest time of the year.
“They are putting a huge amount of energy into planning new, innovative ways to ensure that farm-fresh trees can be sold safely. This can be from increasing their delivery capacity and installing online pre-payment, to busier sites considering timed collection slots.
“There’s nothing like the scent of a real tree at Christmas and this year, more than ever we want a reason to celebrate. We encourage the public to support local growers and sustainability by buying real trees.”
Cadeby Tree Trust in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, is the largest grower in England, supplying farm shops and garden centres across the country.Sharon Scamell-Katz, Sales Manager, said: “After such an unprecedented year, Christmas is the one thing we can focus on and look forward to, and orders from our retailers are already 28% up compared to last year. There’s more of a drive to purchase UK grown Christmas trees and any retailers with click and collect online, are putting in higher orders as consumer habits have changed because of Covid, with more and more buying online.”
Stuart Kirkup of the award-winning Dartmoor Christmas Trees, in Devon, say that orders for their Christmas trees are also up this year. “Everything is looking very positive this year. We are retailers and wholesalers and a lot of our garden centres have increased their orders from us – I would say 70% of them.“I think people will start buying earlier this year, we are anticipating the last weekend in November to be very busy. People will want to bring Christmas forward and put an end to the year.”
With consumer trends changing, Rory Young from Scottish Christmas Trees, in Dumfries, said it’s important the public are aware that they can also buy their real Christmas trees online. “We would say: buy British, buy local to support local businesses and don’t forget there is always the option to buy online which is something that a lot of local retailers are likely to be offering this year.”
This year’s weather has also meant that growers are on track to supply some of the best quality Christmas trees yet.
Colin Palmer, BCTGA’s independent forestry expert said: “Across the UK, the trees have just loved the prolonged sunshine, broken by spells of intermittent rain that we’ve experienced this year. They have grown well and are a lovely dark green where nutrient levels have remained constant.
“The gold standard for freshness is to buy the tree from a grower retailer, and even better if you can choose your tree while still in growing in the plantation - for what can be fresher that a newly harvested tree?”
Planted in March and September, growers make huge investments in their crop as Christmas trees take up to 10 years to nurture before harvest.
Visit www.bctga.co.uk to find your local growers.
Mobile: 07954 007414