AGRAVIS Expert Provides Assistance: Every Tree Is Unique
There is an almost picture-book pre-Christmas atmosphere in Sandkrug, not far from Oldenburg. But what appears idyllic at first glance is somewhat deceptive: the Köhrmann farm is a hive of activity. There, Christmas reigns virtually throughout the year: around 50 hectares of Nordman - 7,000 trees per hectare - are waiting to be deployed as Christmas trees. Köhrmanns do not rely on their experience alone here, but enlist the help of Frank Uwihs, Special Crops Expert at AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG.
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To enable the fir trees to perform as perfectly as possible, Andrea and Gerno Köhrmann, together with their employees, care for every single tree.
But it takes time for a Nordman fir to grow from a tiny seedling into a handsome Christmas tree. The trees that come to Sandkrug from nurseries are already three to four years old, but only 10 to 15 centimetres tall. A crop matures only after seven further years. It usually takes just over ten years for an area to be completely cleared. Every single tree costs a lot of money and commitment over this period. "We cut the trees into shape, keep the areas weed-free, fertilize, attend to blanketing", says Gerno, listing but a few of the many work stages. Harvesting takes place from mid-November onwards.
All kinds of colourful markings are found flapping on the tree tops from August onwards. Then, buyers come to choose their perfect firs. Tastes – as with private individuals who, at Advent, go in search of one tree - differ widely. "Some focus more on loosely grown trees, others prefer them to be dense or compact", Andrea Köhrmann's experience has shown her. A lot can be put down to personal taste, but even firs show trends. The direction in which these trends are heading will also be revealed as early as the summer when one of the industry's biggest trade fairs takes place in Denmark.
The trend towards the Nordman fir also came to Germany from the far north a few years ago. "They are beautifully green, do not lose their needles and do not prick - that explains why there is such huge demand", says Gerno Köhrmann. He set up the operation in Sandkrug together with his wife, focusing on asparagus and strawberries in addition to the Christmas trees. While the other two crops have only a limited season, there is daily work to be done in the case of the firs. Staff are out on the plots in all weathers – thunderstorms alone are an exception.
Köhrmanns do not rely on their experience alone here, but enlist the help of Frank Uwihs, Special Crops Expert at AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG. Uwihs comes to Sandkrug three to four times a year to discuss the health of the plants, their vitality or the perfect fertilization with the Köhrmanns. "Our aim is to end up with a beautifully grown, green tree", the AGRAVIS expert explains. This also includes protecting the crops against late frosts, which can cause so much damage to the trees that they are no longer suitable for selling. But birds, too, which choose the highest points of the plant as a perch, shoots that need to be controlled, make demands on grower and expert. "Every tree is unique. Selecting the best course of action for each one at the best time requires a sense of proportion, manual work and skill", says Uwihs. In defiance of all the trends, Köhrmanns set great store by nature and, apart from minor cosmetic corrections, let it run its course.
Now, however, in the pre-Christmas period, things can go a bit further. It takes two weeks for the whole farm to be decorated. Two particularly beautiful firs shine in full splendour in the large shed and a Christmas village is even being created. "We need to offer people something", says Andrea Köhrmann. Marketing from the farm, she adds, has become more and more difficult over the past few years, which is why they came up with an idea. On three Advent Sundays, families can choose their tree in the crops and obtain suggestions on how to decorate it.
In the case of the Köhrmanns themselves, choosing the fir tree is a brief and painless process. "We drive through the plantation and my wife tells me which one to take into the living room", Gerno Köhrmann reports with a smile. So that they get something out of their tree, despite all the stress, it is allowed into the living room on the first Sunday in Advent. The professionals have a tip for ensuring that it remains beautiful to look at for as long as possible: Never take freshly cut trees into your house. It is better to store the tree for a few days in your garage or on the terrace and slowly accustom it to the new, much warmer environment. There will then be nothing to stop you enjoying a long, green and virtually needle-free Christmas pleasure.