By hand and by air, crews get to work on Christmas tree harvest

By hand and by air, crews get to work on Christmas tree harvest

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The first shipments of Christmas trees are on their way to Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guam and Hawaii from Holiday Tree Farms.

Holiday Tree Farms is the biggest Christmas tree farm in Oregon, the nation's leading producer of Christmas trees.

From mid-October through December 18, the staff at Holiday Tree Farms outside Corvallis is harvesting Christmas trees for the holidays using chainsaws, conveyor belts, elbow grease - and a heliclopter.

Production manager Jim Ubbink said the farm ships out over 1 million trees per year to people all over the world. Statewide, Oregon leads the nation with $110 million in annual sales.

As the holidays approach, Ubbink said Holiday Tree Farms focuses on domestic shipments, moving thousands of trees across the country to Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as to cities in northern and southern California.

Holiday Tree Farms was established in 1955 by the Schudel family. Ubbink said they employ close to 600 employees in sales, production and shipping.

With 8,500 acres and over 7 million trees on site, Ubbink said it's all about logistics and efficiency.

There are up to 12 different yards on their property, where cutting, shaking, netting, sorting and trucking occur via assembly line.

Ubbink said their greatest tool is their helicopter.

Will Hogan is a contract pilot for Heli-works based in Montana. He has been flying for Holiday Tree Farms for 14 years.

He said the helicopter is vital for moving trees out of inaccessible areas and saving time in transporting trees to the production yards.

Ubbink said a single 10 to 12-foot tree can weigh close to 800 pounds, too heavy for laborers to move by hand.

Using helicopters in tree farm isn't new, but Ubbink said it fits their system.

Holiday Tree Farms is Oregon's largest producer of Christmas trees.