Norfolk Christmas Trees, located at Great Melton Farms, is facing challenges in preserving long-term supplies due to the loss of around 30,000 young trees during the dry summers between 2020 and 2022. The company usually harvests around 8,000 trees each year, with a significant portion being sold to retail customers visiting the farm. However, the business is now working to safeguard future supplies and protect the quality of their trees by cutting back on wholesale deliveries, planting faster-growing varieties, and investing in irrigation mains.
Farm manager, Rob Hartley, stated that the lost trees will create a supply shortfall in three years if not addressed. The company is making efforts to preserve their 5,500 trees for retail sales and has aspirations to expand the facility and sell even more trees in the future. Despite the challenges, the decision was made to invest in irrigation and more trees to secure future supplies and continue diversifying the business with Christmas trees.
There is an expectation that other parts of the country which are better suited to forestry will not experience the same tree losses, so there may not be an overall shortage of trees in future years. At Great Melton Farms, over 90% of the trees planted are Nordmann firs, which require significant investment and careful management. The trees need to be tended to for six or seven years without any income, and various measures need to be taken to ensure they grow in the right conditions and maintain a desired appearance.
Edward Filby, the farm foreman, oversees the Christmas tree operation and views it as a seasonal diversion from his usual arable responsibilities. He finds it rewarding to be involved in the retail side of the business and interact with the public during the festive season. Despite the challenges, Norfolk Christmas Trees is dedicated to overcoming the obstacles and preserving its supply of quality trees for future sales.