North Canterbury grower Andrew McAllister from Needle Fresh Christmas Trees has about 8 -10ha planted in rotational Monterey pines at his Swannanoa farm, with the rest grazed by sheep.
"We plant every year, we harvest every year and I think we'd have anywhere between 20 to 25,000 trees on the site so, yeah, we go through quite a few thousand each season," McAllister said.
It takes four years for the trees to reach their full height - and they are usually felled in the last few days of November.
"The die-hard customers have already started coming through," he said.
But he said it was a slow start to the season, which he believed was due to the rising cost of living.
"This season's interesting actually - it's been quite a lot quieter than normal," he said.
"After Covid, a lot of people were eager to get out and get amongst it and get some positive cheer going on.
"This season has been a slow start but I'm anticipating we'll get slammed this weekend."
The company's standard 6 - 7 foot trees were selling at around $40 - $45, but they could be sold for double that in some parts of the North Island, he said.
"We've tried to keep our trees at a fair price, compared to Auckland I think we're probably half the price.
"Back in the old days you'd buy your tree from the servo and someone's hacked it out from a plantation up the river bed or something, and it was just literally an ungroomed or non-shaped tree, but ours are all form-pruned.
"We try to grow a good tree and it's hard to get them perfect obviously."
He said they were thankful for the loyal families that came back year-after-year.
"[I was] working from Eastgate myself one day and the amount of people who'd been buying trees from us for, like, 10, 12, 13 years - they had kids with them that were now teenagers but that weren't even born when they first started buying trees from us.
"And you start to really appreciate the loyal customer relationship so we do really enjoy it. It is quite fun, and during the harvest time can be quite enjoyable. There's a good buzz, and families [are] generally in a happy space when they come out here and we try to be in the same zone."
"It was my apprenticeship, if you like, I went over there with no education, left school with nothing really," he said.
"Christmas trees turned out to be one of those things I learnt overseas that stuck with me.
"I don't think anyone has a plastic tree over in Europe."
McAllister said they would be selling trees up until December 23.
-By Monique Steele