Tankful Holiday Spectacular: Cut down your own Christmas tree

By Scott Fais, Feature Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, November 29, 2015

In the fields of Hernando County, the trees have waited all year for this moment.

"We grow them faster in Florida," said Tony Harris, owner of Ergle Christmas Tree Farm. "We give the customers a saw and let them go out and choose the tree."

Harris is ready for a busy season. Visiting his Christmas tree farm in Ridge Manor, just north of Dade City, is an after-Thanksgiving tradition in the Bay area spanning more than a quarter-century.

 

Visit Ergle Christmas Tree Farm

  • Online: ergletrees.com
  • Address: 3325 Trieman Blvd., Dade City (The tree farm, itself, is located in Ridge Manor)
  • Hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily from Nov. 14 – Dec. 23, 2015.
  • Prices: Trees start at $30 for a 5-foot tree, $6 per foot for trees up to 9 feet, $7 per foot for trees larger than 9 feet
  • Print this Coupon: Get $2 off the purchase of a tree
  • Contact: (352) 346-2745

 

"They are loyal. They bring their kids with them and their kids' kids with them, their great-grandchildren with them," Harris said of his longtime customers. "It's like a large extended family, because we get to see everyone, every year."

So, grab a saw and get cutting.

Harris' advice for first-timers: "The most important thing is to make sure you have enough stump to go into your stand.

 

Timber!


 

"They drag the tree back up to the front. We shake it, bail it, wrap it and load it on their car, and tie it down for them," Harris explained.

The bigger they are, the more the price heads to the sky. Some of the trees here are absolutely huge.

 

This giant tree is destined for an office building lobby.

 

But so many things in life are a tradeoff. Here in Florida, we trade sunshine for the traditional Christmas tree. Harris said if you're looking for one of those trees you may be accustomed to seeing up north or in the movies, you're just not going to find it here in the Sunshine State.

"You have to be in the high elevations where they have a dormancy period, where it snows, for a Fraser fir, Douglas fir, blue spruce, Scotch pine," Harris explained. "Most of those are coming from Michigan."

In Florida, you'll find sand pines, Southern red cedars and Carolina sapphires.

 

You'll also find a few "Charlie Brown trees."

 

After a tree is cut down, Harris plants a new one next to it.

"Every year we replant," he said.

If you visit Ergle Christmas Tree Farm, leave room in your own tank; fresh kettle corn is a staple here.

 

Other activities include an "all-terrain train" ride around the farm.

 

You might even see some turkeys who survived Thanksgiving.

Ergle Christmas Tree Farm stays open until right before Christmas.

 

Next stop…

Traditionally, once the Christmas tree is up, the lights go next, and few are more elaborate than a famed tradition in Brevard County. NEXT STORY