‘O Christmas tree’

Becker Tree Farm has been helping families find the perfect tree for generations

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Jeff Becker cuts a tree down at his family’s tree farm north of Fort Dodge recently.

For close to 35 years, families have been heading to the Becker Tree Farm each season to pick and cut the perfect Christmas tree.

Jeff Becker, who co-owns the family-owned Becker Florists and tree farm along with other family members, said the tree farm was started back in the 1960s for soil conservation efforts.

“My dad, Bill and Uncle Ed — they headed it up,” he said. “They started by planting trees on the side of the hill for erosion control in about 1965.”

The land was not suitable for row crop production, but is ideal for the trees they raise.

“It is marginal land, which works great for Scotch and white pin. They will grow in that sandy soil,” he said, adding the deer do not seem to bother eating those types of trees.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
A wide variety of sizes of Christmas trees are available for hand cutting this weekend and next at the Becker Tree Farm.

With the first trees planted 55 years ago, when they were mature enough to be cut, they would be brought in to the garden center for sale. It was about 1985 when the family started the choose-and-cut tree business.

“You can come with the family, drive down through the trees — it is a family outing,” said Becker. “If the weather isn’t too bad, they may spend an hour to an hour and a half enjoying their time out here and picking their tree. It’s definitely a safe, social distancing environment.”

Becker said there are multi-generations that are returning each year to choose and cut their own Christmas tree.

“We hear a lot of stories of them coming out here with their mom and dad and now they are bringing their kids,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Jeff Becker cuts a tree down at his family’s tree farm north of Fort Dodge recently.

Cutting your own tree

Upon arrival to the Becker Tree Farm, customers are given a handsaw and they are allowed to drive down the hill to the 10 acres of Scotch and white pine trees. Trees are priced based on height and there is a large selection available, Becker said, of sizes 4 to 5 feet — up to 8 to 9 feet tall.

Some people, Becker said, think cutting a tree down is a disservice to nature.

“If they understand all of the years that tree is out there, it’s not only putting oxygen in the air for us, cleaning the air for us, it is full of songbirds, pheasants and turkeys. It is fantastic for the wildlife,” he said. “I love taking walks out here in the summertime hearing the songbirds in the trees.”

Becker said they replant trees every year. It takes about six years for a tree to grow from a seedling to be big enough to cut.

“Every year we will plant 400 to 500 seedlings,” he said. “Not every one of them will grow, of course, you have to hope for a good year and that you get some rains, because there is no way to water them. This past year wasn’t the best year.”

Becker said Christmas trees can be used far after Christmas, too.

“After Christmas, I always take my tree and put it under the bird feeder for the rest of the winter. The birds can get down in there and hide. It is great for the birds,” he said, adding Christmas trees can also be ground up for mulch.

Caring for the tree

So, you’ve cut your fresh Christmas tree, now what?

Becker said the key is to give them a fresh cut and get them into water.

“Take them home and take an inch off of the trunk and get them right into water,” he said. “If you aren’t going to put it in the house right away, put it in the cold garage in a bucket of water.”

The first three days after cutting the tree are when it is imperative that the tree is getting enough water. Once the tree goes dry, Becker said it seals off and doesn’t take water up anymore.

Be mindful of the location inside of your home of your fresh cut Christmas tree as well, Becker advises.

“Keep it away from heat — such as fireplaces and heat vents,” he said. “And don’t be in a hurry to put it up. I wouldn’t mind waiting until Dec. 5 or 6. Sometimes we get in a hurry. The longer they aren’t in 70 degrees the better.”

The Becker Tree Farm , located north of Fort Dodge at 1801 Lainson Ave., will be open this weekend, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, and next weekend, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 5 and noon to 5 p.m. on Dec. 6.

They are also available by appointment by calling Becker Florists at 576-1113.


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