Episode 13: The business of Christmas

Tree farmers have to get creative to make sure business stays strong and a few bad years don’t set them back too much.

  • Katie Meyer

Lisa Wardle / PA Post

Rod, owner of Blue Ridge Christmas Tree Farm, and Chris the cat stand by some concolor firs on Dec. 19, 2018.


Did you know Pennsylvania is the fourth-biggest producer of Christmas trees in the country?

About a million are cut and sold here every year. So, we figured, now is a good time to learn a little more about one of the commonwealth’s most festive industries.

To do that, we headed out to Annville, about 20 miles outside Harrisburg, to explore a tree farm.

Rod Wert and his wife Jodi own the Blue Ridge Christmas Tree Farm. They’ve been in the business for 30 years, both here and at a previous farm in Linglestown. The family also owns a second farm where they grow things like corn, rye, and soybeans, and they have a bookbinding business—Wert Bookbinding—in Grantville.

There’s a lot of planning that goes into growing trees as a crop. It takes about eight years for seedlings to get tall enough to be sold, and Rod told us a lot can happen in that time—root rot, fungus, sunburned trees…the list goes on. So, he said, tree farmers have to get creative to make sure business stays strong and a few bad years don’t set them back too much.

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