Krueger Tree Farm and other small businesses contribute to the strength of Wisconsin’s Christmas tree industry. (Credit: Alice in Dairyland)

On a recent warm and breezy November day, I traveled up to Door County to cut down the first official Wisconsin Christmas trees of the Wisconsin holiday season! After a turn in the small town of Forestville, I knew I was in the right place when I came upon a classic red pick-up truck with a big Christmas tree in the bed.

I spent the morning learning from Randy Krueger of Krueger Tree Farms about his business, techniques to use a saw, and Christmas tree longevity tips. Local 5 Live news even stopped by to film the cutting of the Christmas tree and share information from Randy and me with viewers. The Kruegers, located in Sturgeon Bay, were such wonderful hosts and knowledgeable producers! Learn more about their season on their Facebook page @KruegerTreeFarm.

According to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, more than 700,000 Christmas trees are harvested every year in our state, with a significant increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 10-15 years that trees are grown before being harvested, they absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and provide wildlife habitat. Once the tree is harvested, it is shaken to remove loose needles, wrapped to make for easier transporting, and loaded up for the trip to its new home for the holidays. On average, two or three trees are planted the following spring for each tree that is cut down, continuing the cycle of benefits.

Whether you get your tree right after Thanksgiving, or wait until closer to Christmas, there are plenty of best practices for keeping your tree looking fresh right up until your gatherings. A well-cared-for tree should remain fresh at least three to four weeks before drying to an unsightly level. The Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association is your one stop resource for all things Wisconsin Christmas trees, and they share the following tips:

  • Avoid whittling down the sides of the trunk to fit a stand as the outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
  • For most Christmas trees, the stand should hold at least 1 gallon of water.  A cut tree will absorb a surprising amount of water, particularly during the first week, so replenish the water daily.
  • Check the stand daily and add water to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. 
  • Keep displayed trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, and direct sunlight). 
  • Monitor your tree for dryness. Run your fingers across the needles to determine if they are dry and brittle. If the needles break easily or fall off in your hand, the tree is dry and should be removed from the house. 
Each year, Alice in Dairyland cuts down the first Christmas tree to kick off the Wisconsin holiday season! (Credit: Alice in Dairyland)

After the holiday season is over and you are ready to dispose of your Christmas tree, there are some environmentally-friendly options you can take. The exact options will vary based on your location, so a little bit of research can help identify your plan of action.

Generally speaking, Christmas trees are primarily recycled in a few main ways. Many local municipalities will collect trees after the season ends to turn them into mulch. This mulch is then used as a weed barrier, along walking paths and more.

Some locations will put trees out on a frozen lake so after the lake thaws, trees will become submerged and form fish habitat. These biodegradable trees can also be left outside in appropriate locations after removing all decorations to become wildlife habitat or to decompose back into the environment. It is important to not burn your Christmas tree in your fireplace because the sap will add to creosote build-up, which can become a fire risk.

Make wonderful holiday memories this year with a real Wisconsin Christmas tree! To find a tree lot near you, visit the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association at