Number of Christmas tree farmers declines in Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Number of Christmas tree farmers declines in Georgia

December 20, 2005

Lee County--Cutting your own Christmas tree, it's a holiday tradition for some families, but it's a tradition that's becoming harder to keep up. The number of Christmas tree farmers in Georgia is falling as fast as the trees.

It's a busy day at the Busy Elves Christmas Tree Farm in Lee County. "This is the best time of the year to plant," says tree grower Joedy Putnal.

Along with his young helpers, Joedy Putnal is planting more than 500 seedlings. "We're doing work out here that we won't see an income from for at least three years," he says.

Putnal does plenty of business, selling more than 800 Christmas trees a year.

According to experts, last Christmas 27 million people purchased real Christmas trees. It's a number Joedy says makes his job worth while. "People enjoy being out, people enjoy cutting down their own tree," he says.

While that may be true, finding a tree farm isn't as easy as it used to be. Putnal says that's largely because fewer young people are getting into the business.

"A lot of people do this same thing, it's elderly people, and eventually they get to where they can't do the work," he says.

Growing Christmas trees also demands a lot of physical labor that many people just aren't prepared to do.

"You've got herbicides, you've got insecticides that's got to be used, you've got fungicides that's got to be used regularly, you've got trimming," he says.

And nowadays, more and more tree farmers are selling their land to developers.

"I've had four offers this year for this. I don't intend to sell."

And has no plans of getting out of the tree business any time soon.

"You have to really love it, to do it." Putnal says that's the main key to being successful in a business slowly dwindling away.

Joedy Putnal has been selling Christmas trees in South Georgia since 1987. His farm is located on Highway 82 between Albany and Sasser.

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