Our Christmas tree production is located on two farms north of Haderslev in Denmark. Hans Aarøe is based in the village of Ørby, and Sten Nielsen in the village of Knud Lyng. We have each planted approx. 40 hectares with the Nordmann fir species Ambrolauri, Tversted and Borjomi, with Ambrolauri accounting for approx. 90% of the trees. Our land is good, fertile farmland which means that we produce deep green and full-bodied trees with a high needle density and long, wide needles.
Our location close to the coast provides us with the perfect climate with a low risk of frost damage and with appropriate temperatures during bud break.
We purchase our seedlings from a local nursery. We grow only Nordmann fir of the species Ambrolauri, Tversted and Borjomi; these species are the best known and the types demanded by the end-customer. The visual characteristics of the three species are very similar, and the unskilled eye cannot tell the difference. They differ slightly in terms of width and time of bud break.
When we receive the seedlings, they are three years old and 10 - 15 centimetres high. Normally, we plant seedlings in September. At this time, the seedlings have nearly stopped growing, but their root system keeps growing for about a month, which means that seedlings will take deeper roots before the bud break in the following spring.
In recent years we have gradually increased our scope of seedlings planted as we are convinced that we produce the trees in demand by the customers. Altogether we plant approx. 100,000 seedlings a year at our two estates.
Over the next four growing seasons, the growth in length of the trees is limited whereas a strong root system is developed. During this period, the trees are fertilized each spring and kept free from weed.
After four growing seasons, efforts on a large scale are required. The height and width of the trees now increase more vigorously each year. The trees are fertilized twice annually and are still kept free from weed. During the winter when growth is suspended, the lower branch whorl will be cut away mechanically in order to create a handle of the tree and to facilitate weed control.
Nordmann fir trees tend to become much too wide compared to their height. Therefore all trees are trimmed into shape with hand shears by cutting away one or two intersections of twigs. As such trimming takes place after the fourth growing season, the cuts will be disguised by the growth of the following years.
During the following years, we trim the shape of the trees by pinching some of the new buds in the spring when the buds break.
In the case of some trees, the leader tends to grow vigorously upward. This we try to reduce by manually rolling the leader to slow down its upward growth.
After six or seven growing seasons, we start selecting the first trees for sale. The big harvesting years are growing seasons eight, nine and ten.
Harvesting, also called processing, takes place in the form of labelling all trees with labels according to size and quality. Just before delivery of the trees, typically four or five days before delivery, the trees will be cut down. The trees must be left for a couple of days before they are hauled out of the plantation, netted and packed on pallets according to the classifications requested by the customer. Subsequently, the trees are loaded for transport. As a result of our quick handling of the processing activities, our trees are fresh when arriving at the customer.
Creating a beautiful Christmas tree for a family is a long-term, time-consuming and big financial investment that may not yield any return for up to 10 years.