The National Christmas Tree Association estimates that only about one quarter of American households with Christmas trees use real trees instead of artificial ones, and an even lesser number, reportedly about 16%, actually go out and cut their own tree. The decline in Christmas-tree cutters is likely due to more people living in cities, where they lack the time and access to tree farms or other places to harvest them. Nowadays, some people even order their tree online.
For the relatively few who love the old-time, hands-on tradition of communing with nature while experiencing the adventure of cutting down your own tree, you might be wondering where and when to do this.
Since a well-watered Christmas tree holds its needles after cutting for three to four weeks, late November to early December is the best time to head out to your local tree farm or a wilderness area with your saw. This allows you and your family time after Santa’s visit to enjoy your beautiful tree up through the start of New Year’s festivities.
The Farmer’s Almanac has its own take on when is the best time to cut a Christmas tree, which in their view, varies from year to year. The Almanac’s calculation revolves around the centuries-old theory that the moon has influence over all water/moisture. They extend the moon’s effect to the rise and fall of water in all living things, including humans and trees. The circulatory system of trees, which they interpret as trees’ sap movement, is thus subject to the moon’s impact on its “tides.”
Pursuant to the Almanac formula, the best time to engage in pursuits like cutting timber and planting below-ground (root) crops is when the moon is waning, i.e. going from being full through its last quarter, called the “dark of the moon.” This is when energy is thought to be cycling downward; in the case of trees, the sap would be descending lower. In the opposite moon phase, when it is waxing (growing) toward full illumination, the energy supposedly is moving upward, reflected by tree sap moving higher in trees.
People in the timber industry have long held by the Farmer’s Almanac wisdom that cutting wood is best done when the sap is lower. Based on this theory, the best days in 2020 to cut trees are December 14th through 24th. Some of these dates, however, are quite close to Christmas — possibly a bit further into the holiday season than many people might wish to wait.
Local tree farms are the best place to find a tree, as they offer a fun, unique experience for families and couples. Eckert’s Farm in Belleville offers Christmas tree cutting and provides you with all the tools you need, making it stress free and easy to get your tree this season. If you want to trek into the wilderness in search of a tree, this is permitted by most national forests, but you must first obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service and follow guidelines, which vary among individual forests.
When picking out a tree, take a measuring tool with you. Trees can appear smaller out in the open, and it’s easy to wind up with a tree that’s much too large for your home. Nicely shaped trees positioned near clearings in a wooded area work the best. At Christmas tree farms, you’ll be advised to make your cut close to the ground. This enables the tree to re-sprout a central leader for the formation of another tree in coming years. It takes eight to nine years, on average, for a new mature tree to replace one previously cut.