Trees prove worth

Published 12:01 am Monday, November 26, 2007

FERRIDAY — When Marie Potts first started her Christmas tree farm, she wasn’t planning on starting a business. She just wanted to stop erosion.

“A couple of friends of my father’s were growing soybeans and cotton on my land just to keep it active,” she said.

But keeping the land active was having some unintended consequences, and the soil began to erode and even fill in a small lake near Potts’ property.

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“My friend Wayne Magoun, who was with the soil and conservation district through the extension service told me if I wanted to save my land I should plant Christmas trees,” she said.

That first year, 1993, Potts planted 1,000 trees. The next year, she planted another 1,000.

During that time, she learned to take care of the trees, and in the winter of 1994-1995 opened her Christmas tree farm, Marie’s Trees.

The planting year for the Christmas tree farm begins in January and February, but this year’s batch will stay potted until they have root systems established because of the drought like conditions, Potts said.

From March until October, the trees — pines and Leland cypress — are maintained. The pines are sprayed to keep the Nantucket moth at bay, and the cypress trees are treated with a fungicide.

Throughout that time, Potts also works to subsoil the ground for the next year’s plot.

During the months of April and May, she also does the trimming on the trees.

But the local Christmas tree shopping base doesn’t demand she trim them too much, Potts said.

“People around here like their trees a little rough around the edges,” she said. “They don’t like the upside-down ice-cream cone trees.”

Though she only sells approximately 200 trees on a good year, the farm has provided Potts with another opportunity.

“I enjoy meeting new and old friends,” she said. “You would be surprised at the people traveling through that stop and visit and sometimes buy a tree to take back to Texas or New Orleans or even Alabama.”