This time last year, record-breaking rain left pine growers struggling to keep their plantations healthy, and while this season has been more forgiving, the fallout from tree losses will take years to recover.
Gary Mustafa, Razorback Christmas Tree Farm, grows pines on the western outskirts of Greater Sydney at Razorback, near Picton, and on a property at Oberon.
He said both properties had experienced a good growing season.
"Conditions have been relatively mild, and while we haven't had a great deal of rain, the rainfall we did receive was regular enough to keep our winter plantings happy," he said.
The extreme rainfall events over the past two to three years severely impacted production numbers for growers, with the soggy conditions causing root damage and the ultimate death of thousands of trees.
Mr Mustafa estimates he lost almost 45 per cent of the trees planted during those wet years.
As a result, the tree shortage will continue for at least a further two years until the younger trees are established and old enough to be sold.
"Root rot and stunted growth have been the major issue we faced due to the intense rainfall," he said.
"Deep channels have now been excavated around the property to help re-direct surface water. However, this works against us when conditions are dry."
On average, Mr Mustafa sells 800 trees a year. However, increased customer demand from those searching for the perfect fresh pine means production has ramped up.
He predicts Razorback Christmas Tree Farm will churn out about 2000 trees a year as of 2025.
Dwarfed cultivars of the radiata pine (Pinus radiata) are grown at Razorback Christmas Tree Farm, which has a clay base, with the tube stock sourced from Queensland.
Extra attention is given to the juvenile trees' water requirements as this is the most critical stage of their growth, shortly after planting.
The pines are shaped into a "typical" Christmas tree shape from an early age to promote growth, giving the tree the popular "full" appearance.
Mr Mustafa prunes the pines at night under lights to avoid the tree succumbing to heat stress while their small branches are freshly cut.
Currently, Mr Mustafa has 5000 trees in the production line, which are harvested four years after planting.
He said many families visit the farm wanting the experience of selecting their tree for the festive season, or they choose to pre-order online and pick up their tree on a nominated day.
"Harvest takes place during the first two weeks of December," he said.
"For us, the process is quite simple as all our trees are pre-ordered in advance, so all we need to do is cut them and have them ready for pick up."
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