BOZEMAN — Jerry Cashman knows a thing or two about selling Christmas trees. He’s been doing it for 44 years.
“Christmas tree growing is a long term crop. It takes 8-12 years to grow a successful Christmas tree,” said Cashman, owner of Cashman Nursery in Bozeman.
“You have to plan ahead and it ties up your resources.”
He says there’s a nationwide Christmas tree shortage, due in part to farmers planting fewer seedlings during the years of the great recession.
“So the recession in 2008, 2009 and 2010, there was a surplus of Christmas trees, and now those trees because the growers had too many then, they didn’t plant in 2010, 11, 12,” said Cashman.
“And of course there’s a shortage now, 10 years later.”
Cashman also adds that there are fewer and fewer Christmas tree farmers now, and points to the slow yield of the crop and intensive labor that goes into farming Christmas trees.
“Every year you have to cultivate them, weed them, spray them, prune them,” said Cashman.
“It’s a great deal of work, and it takes a lot of investment capital. And they’re just not doing it so much anymore.”
In spite of the national shortage, the Gallatin Valley is filled with Christmas trees.
“There shouldn’t be any shortage here because we have the access to go out and cut the wild trees up in Northwestern Montana,” said Cashman.
“Also trees come from the Indian reservation by Flathead Lake, near Saint Ignatius. There are a lot of trees that get harvested in that area.”
There are many in the area who enjoy the adventure of finding their own Christmas tree in the wild, and right now the Cutster-Gallatin National Forest is selling Christmas tree permits for $5.
You can find out where to purchase a Christmas tree permit locally by clicking here.