Paimio-based Esko Holma has grown Christmas trees for 30 years. A total of 40,000 spruce trees grow in an area of some 10 hectares. In addition to Finnish spruce, the species consist of black spruce and Serbian spruce.
“The advantage of domestic spruce is their scent and national tradition. Black spruce, however, has little scent, which suits people with allergies. Serbian spruce lasts longer. Other species have also been tried, but we have decided on the ones referred to above,” says Holma, who chairs the Finnish Christmas Tree Growers Association´s working group on breeding.
Each year Holma sells a few thousand spruce trees in the Turku region. Domestic spruce accounts for 85 per cent, black spruce 10 per cent and Serbian spruce five per cent of sales.
The origin of Holma´s spruce trees is south of the Gulf of Finland.
“We purchase the seeds from Estonia because Estonian spruce begins growing a couple of weeks later than Finnish spruce, and for that reason there is less danger from frost,” Holma says.
Spruce cultivation requires a lot of work. Seedlings grown from seed are grown for three years before outplanting. The trees grow to Christmas tree height in seven years.
“The trees must be pruned twice a year. Between March and April more drastic pruning is done, and between August and September pruning is more circumspect.
The best ground for growing is a north-east slope, where the sun does not dry out the needles as much during the spring when the ground is still frozen.
Finland has some 400 growers, of whom around 20 grow Christmas trees more or less as a professional business.
The advantage of domestic spruce is their scent and national tradition.
Domestic production is insufficient to cover current demand as Finland imports several hundred thousand Christmas trees, mainly from Denmark.
“A problem affecting imported trees, however, is that when they are felled and packed closely for transport they have a tendency to develop mould. The aim is, in fact, to replace imported trees with domestic production,” Holma continues.
Text: Aimo Jokela, Luke
Photo on top of the page: Päivi Rajakari
Published in Finnish in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus 12 of December 2016.