Debbie Bunker with some of her Christmas trees ready for harvest

December 6, 2013

Many farmers grow seasonal crops, but Debbie Bunker’s harvest is more seasonal than most … her pine trees are grown for just one purpose: Christmas.

The Inverlaw farmer began raising Christmas trees about four years ago.

Her husband Chris grows duboisia and runs cattle but Debbie was looking for something a little bit different.

She hit on the idea of growing radiata pine trees and purchased some tubestock from NSW.

When that source dried up, she began growing the trees from seed.

Raising Christmas trees isn’t a simple matter of planting them out and then waiting a few years.

Each of the trees has to be carefully pruned and shaped so they grow bushy at the base and then taper neatly to a point.

“We trim them three times a year so they bush up rather than turn into a spindly pine,” she said.

Debbie does some of the pruning, but calls on husband Chris to trim the larger saplings.

For the past three years, Debbie has been selling Christmas trees in pots via a wholesale distributor in Brisbane.

“They sell everything that we can grow – this year we sold 750 – and they go all over Queensland,” she said.

The potted plants are sold in three different size containers: 180mm, 250mm and 400mm and very in size up to chest height. After they’ve served their purpose as a living Christmas tree they can always be planted outside.

However, this year, Debbie has also branched out into cut Christmas trees.

The pines, which can stay fresh for up to four weeks after they are harvested, are available from six foot to nine foot tall.

She now has at least 800 in the ground, in various stages of maturity. She harvested the first ones this month.

Debbie is marketing the trees under the name “Chrissy Trees 4U”.

They’re available at Ross Evans Garden Centres in Brisbane and Runaway Bay, as well as directly from the farm at 328 Reedy Creek Road, Inverlaw; nearby Mulanah Gardens B&B, and the Chrissy Trees 4U Facebook page.

Debbie said deliveries can be organised in the local area. The Bunkers have also purchased a special baling machine to make transport easier.

Farming Christmas trees … sections of the Bunkers’ property are planted with trees at various stages of development; there’s also a nursery full of young plants