British Christmas trees: the effect of the weather

We all know Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree taking centre stage among the festive decorations. But the extreme weather experienced this year has had a real impact on the British Christmas Tree sector. What you may not know is…

Rougham Estate Trees_11506

The prolonged dry weather over the summer has had a real impact on the growth of trees this year. Oliver Combe, chairman of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, says “Shoppers won’t encounter problems sourcing trees this year, because it’s mainly the newly-planted ones, which are some time off harvest, that have really suffered.

“We’ve never known a year like it. Growers are coming to terms with the extent of the losses and we are already seeing them begin the process of repairing damage by planting this autumn and again next spring. Growers will be working hard to replace their losses and ensure there is a stable, long-term supply to the market.

“The UK has an excellent environment for growing Christmas trees with good soils, an ideal climate and normally ‘reliable’ rainfall. Our growers will be able to recover and, long-term, this may be an opportunity for UK growers as it appears the situation was much worse on mainland Europe.”

Meet the Christmas Tree growers

Colin Griffith - Christmas Tree - CS only don't use_38843

Colin and Davina Griffith have been growing Christmas trees for more than 25 years. They own Dinmore Hill Christmas Trees, in Wellington, near Hereford, home to a plantation of around 50,000 trees, which, in the run-up to Christmas, is open seven days a week to customers who can choose a growing tree from the fields.

The couple grow nine varieties, including the traditional Norway Spruce, Nordmann Fir and Fraser Fir. They’re members of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association and have twice been selected to supply a Christmas tree to 10 Downing Street.

‘The run-up to Christmas is our busiest time of year, but looking after the trees is an all-year round job,’ says Davina.

‘As soon as Christmas is over we start replanting and thinking about the year ahead, then we have to fertilise and prepare the ground, protect the trees from the birds so they don’t damage new growth, control their growth so they don’t get too lanky, and we also prune them all by hand and label them all.’

“We’re a small farm compared to some; it’s just the two of us, although we have family who come and help at Christmas.”

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Did you know?

  • 7 million Christmas trees are bought each year
  • A typical 6 to 7 feet high Christmas tree is between 10 and 12 years old
  • The 4 most popular varieties of Christmas trees are:
    • Nordmann Fir - dark green foliage and soft leaves, with good needle retention
    • Norway Spruce – often regarded as the traditional tree, it is usually a tidy pyramid shape with a typical Christmas tree smell.
    • Blue Spruce - elegant with natural blue foliage.
    • Fraser Fir - leaner in shape with much denser foliage and a lovely balsam fragrance.
  • 80% of trees sold tend to be the Nordmann Fir variety

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How you can help support the British farming industry during the 2018 festive season

Last edited:15 February 2019 at 11:08

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