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The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise • Wednesday, November 30, 1988 • Page 1B $* ' ' ' > I " tree farms for Christmas tree hunters By SANDRA COLE Staff Writer If you just haven't been able to capture the spirit of Christmas yet, a Visit to one'of the local Christmas tree farms niay be just what you /need. ; There are two Christmas tree farms in the Seguin area: Seller's Christmas Tree Farm, owned by . Russell Seiler, and Vogel's Tannenbaum Farms, owned by Harvey and Betty Vogel. Seiler's farm is located south of Seguin.i The business began six years ago with' the encouragement of County Extension Agent Gus Person. Seiler said Person took him on a tour and really got him interested in the growing process. Once he got his original crop planted, the business took off and he has been selling the trees for four years. Growing Christmas trees for sale to the public requires many hours of hard work. The growing process involves clearing the field, planting the seedlings, controlling weeds and grass and, since rain has been scarce this year, a watering system. This year's lack of rain did not harm the trees because Seiler was prepared with a trickle watering system. Shaping the trees is also an important part of the process because it allows them to become fuller each year. However, Seiler has to be careful that the trees do not become too full. At Seller's, trees are planted six feet apart' to give them room to grow. It generally takes three to four years for. a tree to be ready to sell and the trees generally grow three feet a year from their start as seedlings. Seller's farm is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week. He said: 1 the second :Weeke'hd i after Thanksgiving is typically the busiest one. Seiler opened last Friday with 1,400 trees tagged to be sold. TO get to the farm, take Highway 123 south to Mesquite Junction, turn right and follow the signs. Seiler said he hopes to continue in this business for a while. In the future he expects to have 2,000 trees a year available on his 34 acres of land. Vogel's Tannenbaum Farms is located east of Seguin. Owned by Harvey and Betty Vogel, the farm features Eldarica pine trees. The Vogels have been in the business in Seguin for three years. Prior to that time, the Vogels had a farm near New Braunfels, The Vogels share in the task of planting' seedlings by hand, chopping weeds by hand and planting rye grass between the trees for people to walk on, and watering and caring for the eight acres of trees. They must also trim the trees so that they have, the proper shape. The Vogels also have 1,400 trees for sale" this year. Vogel said he would eventually like to have more trees but that the work is all he and his wife can handle right now. Vogel said they have "never had as many good trees as customers." A retired school teacher, Vogel said growing Christmas trees is something he always wanted to do. After he retired from teaching, a county^extension agent told him of a variety of trees that would ,grow in Texas. He wept out and purchased some and the business began. He said the business requires "a lot of work on your own," and it is not easy, but he and Mrs. Vogel will continue in the business as long as they can. Vogel's is open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Dec. 23. To get to the farm, take Highway 90 A east of Seguin to the auxiliary airport. Follow Airport Road and the signs to the farm. Both the Vogels and Seilers tint their trees and measure and hand tag each tree. Seiler charges $3.20 to $4.25 ,a foot while the Vogels charge $2 to $5 a foot. Christmas tree farms seem to be gaining popularity each year. The Vogels and the Seilers both said they have customers who, return each year to pick out thVjpeifecf. tree. Vogel said talking with the customers is the most fun part of the business. -An advantage of the fresh eut:tree is its lasting power. >erson said the trees will last about a month longer than precut trees. They will also retain their needles better. Persbn said it is his goal to eventually work with local service organizations to supply the trees for them to sell. Person said this would enable the organizations, which now order in bulk, to purchase trees on an as-needed basis so that they do not get stuck with a large number of extra trees. Person noted that growing Christmas trees is not an easy job. He said on the average it takes three years to get a business set up. Person said the Christmas tree business is a labor-intense program that most I invest $2,500 to $3,000 in before seeing any profit. The county agent explained that the pH factor of the soil determines what type of tree may be grown. Since Seiler's property has a sandy soil with a low pH factor of 6.3 to 6.4, it is ideal for the Virginia Pines. The Vogels' land, on the other hand, is sandy loam, has a high pH factor of 7.6 to 7.8 and is best for Eldarica pines. Other area tree growers are Frank Rhew' who grows Virginia Pines.. Rhew is located near Floresville. Call 393-6022 for an appointment. Marshall Frazier also has Virginia Pines and is located north of IH 10 on Highway 304 between Delhi and ffl 10 in Caldwell County. Holly Bustamante is located three and one half miles out of Nixon on FM 681. Bustamante features Virginia Pines. THEY MAY NOT look like Christmas trees now, but in a couple of years these trees will be full grown Virginia Pines. Russell Seiler planted five acres of land with these trees one year ago. PHIL MCCLAIN cuts down the tree picked out by his family at Seiler's Christmas Tree Farm. Watching are his son Bryan, wife Kcrthy and daughter Shannon. The McClains live in San Antonio andthisistheirthlrdtriptoSeiler'sfarm. Staff photos Michael Perez LOOKING OVER on© of the 1,400 Virginia Pine trees he has for sale this yegr.is Russell Seller. Seller has been in the Christmas tree business for six years, HARVEY AND BETTY Vogel show off one of their Eldarica pine trees available this year. The Vogels have eight acres of trees and there are 1,400 available this year. CHRISTMAS TRiiS gre g fgmlly &u§ln§§§ gt Vogel'5 Tonnenboum grrra-Meje .jd-n DovlMhe Vogeis' wrHrrtow cuts down g tree Qut at the fgrm. • BETTY V056L helps Joyce Drfityedt select just the-right tree. There are 1400 tiess gygllgfeje gt Vogel's Tannenpaum Fgrms thityiQfiHitVegtJs h$v§ fee@n growing ChriitmQs trees famine' Years. Here's some good advice on keeping your tree fresh According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are an expected 34 million trees that will be harvested for the Christmas season this year. Last year, 33.3 million trees were sold. Average cost per foot for a tree this year ranges between $3 to $5.25 per foot. NCTA consumer surveys show that natural trees and artificial trees have about an equal share of users. About 27 percent of homes use no tree at all. When you decide to shop for a real tree, these simple steps can make the selection of a fresh, natural tree easier. — Determine where in your home the tree will be displayed. With this in mind, you will be able to tell what height you will need and whether all four sides must be suitable for display. — Freshness is an important key when selecting your tree. Take hold of a branch about six inches from the tip between thumb and forefinger. Pull your hand towards you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Needles should adhere to the branch and not fall off in your hand, — Lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down abruptly on the stump end. Dry green needles should not fall off in substantial numbers. Loss of some brown needles is normal. * — The tree should have a fragrance and good green color. After you purchase the tree, here are some tips from the NCTA for keeping your Christmas tree fresh and safe this holiday season: — If you buy your tree several days before it will be set up and decorated, store the tree in a garage or on a cool porch or patio until you are ready to decorate. An area that provides protection from the wind or sun will help the tree retain its moisture. — If you plan to store the tree several days, make a straight cut across the base of the tree trunk about a quarter inch from the end. This opens the tree so it can take up water. Store the tree upright and place the bottom stem in the container of water. — When you bring the tree into the house for decorating, make another fresh, straight cut across the stem about a quarter inch above the original cut. Use a tree stand that holds plenty of water, — Trees are thirsty, Depending on size, they may drink between two pints and a gallon of water per day, so make sure to check daily and to supply fresh water as needed. If you allow the water to drop below the trunk, a seal will form just as it does on a cut flower, and a new cut will r\A nAsi^aariA*** «- Place the tree away from fireplaces, radiators, television sets and other neat sources. Turn off the lights on the tree when you leave your home and[before yaarejjre, at night— Avpid use of combustible decorations, Check all electric lights, cords and connections before you begin decorating. Do not use lights wto worn .prfaygd cords and never use lighted eanfc p^ ov§r , load electrical circuits.