By Laura Leite Telescope News
It has been a record year for Christmas tree sales this year, both at the Kasl Tree Farm and on the state and national levels.
Scott Kasl says the business expects to sell 400 to 500 trees this year, up from a normal year when 200 to 300 trees head out to decorate homes.
“We have families coming from as far west as Phillipsburg and from Davenport, Nebraska just to name a few places,” says Scott Kasl, just as a car from Shawnee County KS pulls into the lot.
The trend for live tree sales is following a 2020 season that also saw growth in the gardening and farmer’s market industries, as more people seek outdoor activities and desire to create family traditions.
“We are seeing a lot of new families that have not been to the tree farm before and who are new to putting up a real tree,” he says.
“People are valuing traditions at home and want a real tree. Picking out and cutting your own tree is a good family experience,” he says.
“Seeing the families enjoying picking out their tree and taking it home is worth all the hard work of caring for the trees throughout the year.”
Kasl Tree Farm is a member of the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association, and one of 34 tree farms in its membership across the state. In 2015, the Kansas Department of Agriculture estimated more than 11,000 live Christmas trees were harvested and sold in Kansas.
David Bruton, utilization and marketing forester with the Kansas Forest Service, noted that it typically takes between 6 to 8 years for Christmas trees to reach a height of six feet. Taller trees take about one year for each 14 to 16 inches beyond that, he said.
“Harvested trees are replaced each year with newly planted seedlings that are then grown and maintained for the enjoyment of future customers,” Bruton said.
Scott Kasl grew up working on the tree farm that his grandfather, Ben Kasl, started in 1980, and was continued by his father, Mike Kasl, who died in 2018.
Every member of the Kasl family, and some of their family friends, work at the farm throughout the year and take care of different aspects of the business during the busy holiday season.
Scott’s mom, Carolyn Kasl owns the tree farm and makes all the bows for the fresh wreaths that are created for sale.
“I think that since I started making bows in 1996 that I have made over 2,000 bows,” she says. In addition to retail sales, the Kasl family helps school children with fundraisers, including the Republic County 5th Grade Veterans Program. Some of the different fresh evergreen items that they make are crosses, hearts, diamonds, snowflakes, and gnomes.
Families can pick out a Christmas tree, and the Kasl staff cuts the tree down, shakes the tree to remove dead needles, wraps it in netting, and loads the tree in the customers’ vehicles.
Customers can also take a handsaw out with them and cut down the tree that they want, Kasl says.
Phil Wegman, president of the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association, said tree farms are one-way rural communities can provide education to their urban neighbors.
“Visiting your local tree farm gives families the opportunity to learn about growing trees and experience open spaces, fresh air, green space and natural beauty found in nature,” Wegman said.
Plus, he adds, “an investment in local Christmas tree farms is an investment in local communities. Christmas tree farmers re-invest income earned from selling their trees in other local businesses.” The Kasl Tree Farm is open Thursday – Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., until December 20.
Find them on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/KaslChristmasTrees