How Christmas Trees Work

Harvesting Christmas Trees

Workers collect Normand fir trees
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Actual harvest times vary according to species and climate, but most plantations begin cutting trees during the first few weeks of November. Usually, trees that will be shipped outside the originating country are harvested first. Then, those set for domestic sale will be cut from mid-November to mid-December.

The harvesting includes several steps:


  • Grading
  • Cutting
  • Hauling
  • Baling

Some pretty cool equipment is used to do all of this. Several plantations in the Pacific Northwest use helicopters to move bundles of trees from the field to truck beds. Refrigerated trucks are used to transport trees, and balers (like the one pictured above) are used during harvest to bundle the trees for shipping. Sometimes you will see a baler at retail lots, where they use them to rebundle your tree before loading it onto the top of your car.

In the next section, we'll discuss the best ways to go about selecting a Christmas tree.