State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

PA Post's State of the State podcast: The business of Christmas

Written by Katie Meyer | Dec 21, 2018 11:00 AM
Christmas tree farm

Rod Wert, owner of Blue Ridge Christmas Tree Farm, and Chris the cat stand by some concolor firs on Dec. 19, 2018. (Lisa Wardle/WITF)

Tree farmers have to get creative to make sure business stays strong and a few bad years don't set them back too much.

Did you know Pennsylvania is the fourth-biggest producer of Christmas trees in the country?

About a million are cut and sold here every year. So, we figured, now is a good time to learn a little more about one of the commonwealth's most festive industries.

To do that, we headed out to Annville, about 20 miles outside Harrisburg, to explore a tree farm.

Rod Wert and his wife Jodi own the Blue Ridge Christmas Tree Farm. They've been in the business for 30 years, both here and at a previous farm in Linglestown. The family also owns a second farm where they grow things like corn, rye, and soybeans, and they have a bookbinding business--Wert Bookbinding--in Grantville.

There's a lot of planning that goes into growing trees as a crop. It takes about eight years for seedlings to get tall enough to be sold, and Rod told us a lot can happen in that time--root rot, fungus, sunburned trees...the list goes on. So, he said, tree farmers have to get creative to make sure business stays strong and a few bad years don't set them back too much.

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