It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as evergreens with all the ornaments have popped up since Thanksgiving at homes and businesses all over town. However, one Johnson County couple is surrounded by Christmas trees all year long — and they love it.
Phillip and Judy Wegman operate Midland Holiday Pines in Shawnee. The family owned and operated Christmas tree farm has about 3,000 scotch pine trees, in one stage or another, ranging from six inches to 12 feet tall. At the Wegman grove, about 500 trees were marked for sale this season.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, about 26 percent of trees purchased this holiday season will come from farms and fields like the Wegmans’.
Q: What does Midland Holiday Pines specifically carry?
The Wegmans have Christmas trees on five acres adjacent to their home.
“We have scotch pines that grow in the fields,” Judy Wegman said. “They are the only ones sturdy enough to handle our severe heat and cold we have here. And we bring in Fraser firs from Wisconsin and North Carolina and white pines from Wisconsin.”
Midland Pines also carries wreathes and greens for home decoration that are sold in a garage converted into a little shop.
Q: What is your season like?
Judy Wegman said there is very little downtime in the business.
“We spend a lot of weekends in the trees and that’s when we deal with the trees nurturing them,” she said. “We are only open on weekends beginning with the Friday after Thanksgiving through whenever we sell out…. And we never know when we are going to sell out because of the weather. We’ll be open the third weekend of December if there are any left to sell.”
The Wegmans closely monitor sales in the field to make sure they don’t cut trees for the next year.
Tree prices vary by height and width starting around $49; wreaths begin at $26.
Q: Is Midland Holiday Pines a seasonal business?
You might think this is a seasonal business, but it is not.
“We work all year on the tree farm,” she said. “The only time we are not in the field is January when it is too cold. In February we will remove the stumps of the field we sold and in March and April we start planting....In the middle of July, when it is the hottest, we have to shape and sheer them to look like a Christmas tree and they fill in,” Wegman said. “In October we measure every tree to see what will go to market. It takes a tree seven or eight years to grow before they are ready to cut.”
Q: How did you get into the Christmas tree business?
The Wegmans had lived adjacent to the tree acreage since 1976.
“It was mostly a horse pasture and an older couple had lived there,” Judy Wegman said. In 1994, the property came up for sale and the Wegmans bought it though they didn’t have plans to start a tree farm.
“We bought it because we could control our neighborhood during the growth spurt out here,” Wegman said.
Friends who had tree farms suggested the Wegmans go into the same business.
“We thought, ‘we can do that’ not knowing how much work it was or how much profit could be made,” she said.
The Wegmans started the tree farm in 2000.
“It was a long time between investing and our first harvest (because) they are slow-growing trees,” she said.
The Wegmans purchase the trees from nurseries that start the crop off and then plant them in their acreage.
When customers come to Midland Holiday Pines, customers have the option cutting their own tree in the field or purchasing a pre-cut variety.
Q: How do you inventory your crop?
“You can’t inventory per say because you lose a number for a so many reasons —from drought, from deer eating off the tops,” Wegman said. “Half of those you plant will never make it to markets.”
The Wegmans operate the tree business outside of their regular jobs. Phillip Wegman works in continuing education at Johnson County Community College while Judy Wegman is a consulting dietician.
“So far we’ve managed,” she said. “There is only about five weeks during the year that we don’t have a day off.”
Between working full-time and running the Christmas tree farm, the Wegmans don’t have a lot of time to choose their own tree for the holidays.
“We get what’s left over,” Judy Wegman said. “Some years we get nothing and we cut down the Charlie Brown type tree.”
In a nutshell
COMPANY: Midland Holiday Pines
ADDRESS: 18541 Midland Drive, Shawnee
TELEPHONE: (913) 631-5095
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook-midland holiday pines