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Where Are All of Texas' Christmas Trees Coming From?

Bastrop County produced the most Christmas trees in Texas last year, but the industry in Texas is still dwarfed by states like North Carolina and Oregon.

A Christmas tree strapped to the roof of a car, or shimmering in a cheerfully decorated living room is a common sight this time of year.  The USDA estimates the Christmas tree industry to be a $14.5 billion enterprise. While states like Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan lead in harvests, a new USDA survey shows Central Texas leads the state in production, but where are those trees coming from?

A lot of them are coming from Bastrop Count, according to the USDA's agricultural census. The numbers from 2012, the latest data is available, put Bastrop County ahead of everyone else in Texas. They show 9,700 cut trees were from Bastrop that year. Beth Waltersheite operates Evergreen Farms Christmas Trees outside of Elgin. She says the region is close enough to Austin, San Antonio, and Houston to attract a lot of business, and the soil is right for trees.

“You have to have sort of a sandy soil. So, our farm is located on sandy soil. So that’s why we’re able to grow trees,” Waltersheite says. “Like if we wanted to go over to West Austin more than likely we wouldn’t be able to grow trees there, because the soil won’t handle it.”

In total the data shows around 39,000 trees cut in Texas. Houston-area counties Montgomery and Waller were runners up in production, with 4,318 and 2,300 cut in each county, respectively. Texas, however, has seen an overall drop in tree harvests in the past decade or so. There were nearly 81,000 trees harvested in 2002. That total was cut down to 42,327 trees in 2007.

Of course, this means the vast majority of the trees you’re seeing this year probably come from out of state. But if you're in the market for a Texas tannenbaum next year, the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association has a list of about 10 farms in Central Texas area.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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