Oregon's Massive Christmas Tree Industry Gets Ready for a Record Holiday Season

5 things you didn't know about the nation's #1 Christmas tree producing state. (That's us!)

By Ramona DeNies and Rachel Grozanick November 23, 2015 Published in the December 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

1215 christmas trees nj3kle

Image: Susan Ridley


1  Oregon’s rank among Christmas-tree-producing states

$120m  Annual sales of Oregon trees

7.2m Trees projected for 2015 harvest 

90 Approximate percentage of Oregon trees bound for other US states—half to California

528 Growers licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture as of 2014

7-12 Average age, in years, of a six-foot tree at harvest

$30 Maximum price, in 2014, for a six-foot Douglas fir at area U-pick farms

1015 christmas tree copter d0skvs


Olympia-based pilot Doug Uttecht can move more than 1,000 bundled trees in an hour from Oregon farms. The “insane” speeds of up to 80 miles per hour—necessary for last-minute harvests that maximize piney freshness—require exceptional skill. Uttecht carefully monitors the swaying 30-pound hook at the end of his line: “The swing starts fast, but by the time it reaches [the field worker hooking the trees] it should be almost stopped. You don’t want to swing the hook and clock the guy with it.”


Doug fir, prized for its fragrance and soft, blue-green needles, requires just seven years to harvest—no surprise it makes up nearly half of Oregon’s annual crop.

The high-altitude noble fir sweltered through this summer’s heat, with needles turning an early (and unmarketable) red.

Dark horses
According to Bryan Ostlund of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association: “Nordmann and Turkish firs have everything you want: disease resistance, needle retention, and heavy branch structure for ornaments.”


"My father, a Pennsylvania hobby farmer, trimmed each tree branch with a machete, starting with the whorl at the top and working his way around, shaping the trees into perfectly imperfect cones. He’d hope for a hard, lasting frost—if not snow—by Thanksgiving, to freeze the ground. It kept the fields less muddy, more picturesque. Then he’d start lining wagonloads of trees against makeshift fences for customers unwilling to cut their own. In the garage, my sister and I would prune trees too large or deformed by deer, then use a pedal-powered clamp to make wreaths we’d sell to buy our Christmas presents.”

1015 christmas tree farm jkusyd


Merrywood Farm
A shooting location for Pendleton Woolen Mills’ 2013 winter catalog, the forested Oregon City estate vends reasonably priced firs and spruces—U-cut, pre-cut, or we-cut by the “Men of Merrywood.”

Historic Kirchem Farm
Established in 1890 near the banks of the Clackamas River, the Kirchem family farm offers all-natural, spray-free trees, along with free wagon rides and hot chocolate.

Hagg’s Tree Farm
Santa makes a few early visits to Hillsboro, perhaps to take advantage of Hagg’s self-serve economy lot (nobles starting at $10), shake-and-bale service, and holiday bazaar.

Quail Creek Ranch
Just south of Northwest Portland’s Skyline Ridge, find 20 acres of hand-trimmed trees including Nordmanns, grands, Frasers, and Serbian spruce.
(Bonus: an on-site hike to Quail Creek Falls.)


Filed under
Show Comments