Stump culture is a method of growing Christmas trees that maintains a mother stump, which then produces tree after tree under careful management.  Rather than cut a tree close to the ground, the tree is cut at waist height, leaving a skirt of branches.  These branches keep the stump alive, and it sends up many new shoots, some from the stump, some from the branches, and often the branches themselves will curve up and start to become a new tree.  All but one or two of these shoots need to be cut off, or the tree turns into a hedge rather than a Christmas tree.  Indeed, most of the work is in managing the exuberant growth of the trees, both by pruning the trees each year, and by thinning out new trees sent up from the stump.  Ideally the trees can be leap-frogged, with two or three trees of different ages growing off the same stump.

                This method of growing trees is fundamentally different from conventional Christmas tree farming.  Gone is the plowing and seeding a cover-crop, gone is the stump-pulling and planting seedlings trucked long distances, gone is the herbicide and pesticide used to maintain a sterile monoculture.  The trees are not planted in rows, and the grove is really more a managed woodland than a field of trees.  All shaping and thinning is done by hand; the trees are cut by hand and hauled by hand.  Because they rely on handwork and the trees’ innate tendencies rather than fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers and pesticides, stump culture Christmas trees provide a sustainable alternative to conventional trees. 

 

The Pieropan Christmas Tree Farm has been producing Christmas trees and greens since 1955 using a chemical-free, traditional stump culture method that provides a sustainable alternative to conventional Christmas trees.