Bad news for residents of the Lone Star State: Not everything is bigger in Texas … at least when it comes to growing Christmas trees.
By far, North Carolina is the biggest state for production of Christmas trees in the U.S., with nearly 4.3 million trees harvested in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Texas sits way back in that pack, with 38,645 Christmas trees harvested in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available. The USDA released the data in 2014.
In a state with 254 counties, it turns out that just one county grew one-fourth of the Christmas trees produced in Texas in 2012. According to the USDA, a handful of farms in Bastrop County, directly east of Austin, harvested 9,700 Christmas trees that year. Those trees covered only 154 acres of farmland.
The USDA says the 2012 harvest in Bastrop County — known for its abundance of pine trees — was down 23 percent compared with 2007, when 12,650 Christmas trees were cut.
Ready for a ‘Great’ Season
Evergreen Farms expects to harvest up to 1,500 trees this year.
One of the biggest Christmas tree producers in Bastrop County is Evergreen Farms. Beth Walterscheidt, who owns Evergreen with husband Mike, says their farm expects to harvest 1,000 to 1,500 trees during the 2015 holiday season, which she says would be up slightly from last year’s total. Buyers at Evergreen are families throughout the Austin area who are eager to trek to a farm to get fresh choose-and-cut or pre-cut Christmas trees, she says.
Since 1981, the Walterscheidts have grown Christmas trees in Texas — first in Bryan and now in Elgin. The couple initially harvested trees from their 40-acre farm in Elgin in 1996. Over the years, their farm has supplied Christmas trees for the Texas Capitol in Austin.
Beth Walterscheidt, former president of the National Christmas Tree Association, says the drought of 2011 hampered Evergreen Farms’ ability to produce customer-ready trees, but “we are fully recovered and are ready for an outstanding sale season.”
Adena Lewis, director of tourism and economic development in Bastrop County, says wildfires in 2009, 2011 and 2015 destroyed many of the county’s beloved pines, but trees keep being replanted and nurtured.
“We love that our growers continue to send Christmas cheer to families and homes through their tireless efforts,” Lewis says.
Top 5 Tree Producers in Texas
Here are Texas’ top five Christmas tree-producing counties for 2012. They were responsible for 53 percent of the state’s Christmas tree harvest that year.
1. Bastrop County
Number of trees harvested: 9,700
Number of acres in production: 154
Share of statewide harvest: 25.1%
Metro area: Austin
2. Waller County
Number of trees harvested: 4,318
Number of acres in production: 44
Share of statewide harvest: 11.2%
Metro area: Houston
3. Montgomery County
Number of trees harvested: 2,300
Number of acres in production: 80
Share of statewide harvest: 6%
Metro area: Houston
4. Hunt County
Number of trees harvested: 2,220
Number of acres in production: 60
Share of statewide harvest: 5.7%
Metro area: Dallas-Fort Worth
5. Smith County
Number of trees harvested: 2,117
Number of acres in production: 136
Share of statewide harvest: 5.5%
Metro area: Tyler