Up to 400,000 Christmas trees expected to be sold in Ireland this year

Up to 400,000 Christmas trees are expected to be sold in Ireland this year, an increase of 50,000 on last years figures, according to the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association (ICTGA).

Irish Christmas tree growers are getting ready for the annual tree harvest, an industry which is worth an estimated €21m to the economy, it said.

Growers are preparing for a bumper season as the tree harvest gets underway this week, while a number of growers have already begun harvesting their crop to get supply ready for export.

This work is set to intensify in the next week with growers working to meet deadlines to ensure an adequate supply of trees for the domestic market by the beginning of December.

Meanwhile, growers have welcomed news that An Garda Siochana is to going to be running its Operation Hurdle campaign again this year, which is aimed at preventing Christmas tree thefts, a problem which has been a scourge to the industry in the past.

Operation Hurdle, was confirmed by Superintendent Paul Hogan of Wicklow Garda Station and is expected to be launched later this month, according to the ICTGA spokesperson Dermot Page.

Since Operation Hurdle was first introduced three years ago, growers say that there has been a dramatic decline in the problem.

“This is a really positive move. The support from the Gardaí combined with improved tagging systems and security measures at different Christmas tree farms have made a huge difference.

“We are appealing to all growers, and indeed the public, to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity near Christmas tree farms in the coming weeks,” he said.

The ICTGA is also hoping its ‘Love A Real Tree’ labelling system will help guide consumers to buy a home-grown product of the highest quality.

The recent cold snap has meant conditions for the tree harvest, which involves cutting trees and leaving them on the ground for a minimum of two days to allow them ‘close down’ before being netted, are ideal, Page said.

The most popular tree is the Nordmann Fir, which has a dark green needle, while other species in demand include the Noble Fir, Fraser Fir, Korean Fir, Norway Spruce and Lodgepole Pine.

The average sized tree in Ireland is between seven and eight feet high, which is grown for a minimum of 11 years between a nursery and a farm before being harvested.