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Shipping Christmas Trees

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Tis the season to start shipping Christmas trees! See how a strategic truckload partner can make moving firs and freight easy. Get a truckload freight quote today!
Published: October 16, 2020
Last Modified: August 28, 2023
Author: Harriet Daniels

Preparations for shipping Christmas trees and other winter holiday décor begins long before the arrival of the festive season. Most of the trees heading home to be adorned with lights and garland will be the centerpiece for many memories and mark the spot for Santa’s special cargo. However, shipping Christmas trees is a delicate process once the trees are cut. The clock is ticking for this important shipment to reach retail destinations or fulfill a large décor order. There are just a few weeks of optimal display value when it comes to Christmas trees and other factors like weather and shipping method are critical.

The age old debate of whether to purchase a live or artificial tree has pros and cons on both sides. However, our focus here will be on real or live Christmas trees.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 25 million to 30 million real or live Christmas trees are sold each season. The USDA regulates the movement of Christmas trees throughout the U.S. to prevent a host of agricultural pests, especially those found in wood products. The federal regulations along with those set by specific states keeps everything safe and viable for purchase. Before loading up a truckload of Christmas trees, shippers need to know what is required from harvest to delivery.

Where Christmas Trees Grow

The fragrance of a Douglas Fir or the height of a Fraser Fir are popular in different parts of the country along with a list of other Christmas tree varieties. While Christmas trees grow in every part of the country, the Pacific Northwest, the Mid-Atlantic region, the Upper Great Lakes along with the New England region rank at the top of list. It takes an average of seven years for a Christmas tree to grow to harvest stage.

Did you know that the Fraser Fir Christmas tree variety is named for the Scottish botanist John Fraser who explored the region of North Carolina where the tree grows naturally?

Whether purchasing a live Christmas tree at the neighborhood grocery store annual lot or from a big box retailer, freight is a high priority beginning in early to mid-November. The annual peak season has a short window to get a fresh cut tree from the field and loaded on trucks taking the load several states away. The rush to find the perfect tree begins around Thanksgiving and continues at a fast pace through the week of Christmas.

Top states where Christmas trees are grown include:

  • Oregon -  Noble Fir
  • North Carolina - Fraser Fir
  • Michigan – Scots Pine
  • Pennsylvania – Balsam Fir
  • Wisconsin - Balsam Fir, Spruce and White Pine
  • Washington – Noble Fir
  • New York – Douglas Fir

Oregon and Washington both have thousands of acres dedicated to growing trees for a variety of uses including lumber and other wood products.

 Freight shipping Christmas trees from the network of farms where they grow requires close attention to detail to make sure the trees survive the trip and are ready to display when the customer brings it home. In 2019, NCTA reports that approximately a quarter of live Christmas trees were purchased at large national retailers, followed by nursery or garden centers.

Need help with freight shipping from Oregon to Florida? See how a strategic freight partner can get your fresh Christmas trees across the country.

Christmas Tree Peak Shipping Timeline

Christmas Tree Peak Shipping Timeline

Remember, the origin of a Christmas tree will determine the shipping timeline and the equipment to get the job done. Most trees grown in the Pacific Northwest are Noble firs that may have a hard time adjusting to warmer temperatures of the southwest or southeast regions in the months of November and December.

Shippers targeting more premium Christmas tree varieties for select markets may consider expedited services to have a wider distribution reach. Typically, the closer the calendar draws to Thanksgiving the more consumers will begin to make plans for their annual tree purchase.

Peak Christmas tree harvest dates include:

  • Mid-November – early bird shoppers who want hearty trees.
  • Late November – shoppers looking for fresh cuts to last a few weeks.
  • Early to Mid-December – typically the last cut of the season.

The average lifespan of a real Christmas tree is about five weeks. The traditions of consumers motivate their purchase patterns based on those who want the tree up as early as possible to those who want it sparkle and glitter into the New Year. There is a list of recommended home-care guidelines that will keep trees healthy.

Yes, in some regions the weather may prompt an early harvest to avoid any delays during shipping. However, it could result in a tree experiencing more dryness if not purchased early or if not properly cared for once decorated for display.

Freight shipping of Christmas trees is fast-paced since the window of peak freshness ticks by quickly once it’s cut and loaded for delivery. The right carrier partnership is critical in the overall success of this annual shipment. If the shipping distance is cross country, a few hundred miles or a short journey from the farm to a retail market, R+L Global Logistics has the right solution to deliver Christmas trees in time to celebrate every moment of the festive occasion.

Did you know the months and weeks leading up to the holiday season are extra busy times for transportation? Understand what is peak shipping season with information from an expert.

Best Practices for Shipping Christmas Trees


The timeline to harvest Christmas trees to provide maximum freshness while on display can vary. A number of factors such as the growing location, the weather, and shipping distance all play an important role in creating a memorable tree to adorn for the holidays. Just think about the logistics involved in transporting the iconic trees that grace the White House annually or the nostalgic Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. And no two trees are alike; each shipment requires special attention to detail.

A few tips to ship Christmas trees:

  1. Proper documentation – make sure to check for state and federal guidelines.
  2. Plan ahead – weather or other issues can cause shipping delays so plan accordingly.
  3. Prepare the shipment for transportation – have the right equipment ready to roll.

While most trees stand tall and resilient, once cut Christmas trees especially become fragile and handling them is unlike transporting other types intended for lumber production. The branches of a Christmas tree will be bailed to provide protection during shipment. However once stacked along with the other trees, things can shift and cause damage if not treated as delicate cargo. The goal is to delicately navigate the balance to have few needles drop and maintain an overall healthy green color.

Christmas trees are big, bulky and heavy simply put. However, they are worth it all to see them on display with all the ornaments, lights and of course gifts underneath. Many think just loading the trees on a flatbed truck and hauling them off is a no-brainer. But hold on, not so fast.

Top shipping equipment for Christmas trees include:

  • Refrigerated truck – to help manage temperature changes
  • Dry van – to protect trees from wind or shifting damage
  • Flatbed truck - to transport large numbers of trees

USA Truckload Shipping, powered by R+L Global Logistics, has a variety of equipment at their disposal to accommodate freight shipping Christmas trees. Our team works closely with shippers to find the best solution to get a load of trees delivered in time to decorate for Christmas without any issues.

R+L Global Logistics Makes Shipping Christmas Trees Easy


There is a lot involved with shipping Christmas trees. The team of experts with R+L Global Logistics understands the expedited nature of this freight and what it takes to coordinate the journey fresh from the farm. A Christmas tree is a niche in the nursery stock sector and working with our talented freight brokers, we can provide competitive quotes from coast to coast.

The hustle and bustle of prepping for the holiday season does not have to overwhelm the process of Christmas tree delivery. Depend on our vast network of carriers who are knowledgeable about shipping routes throughout the country and make great Santa’s elves helpers. Get a truckload freight quote and discover the difference of freight shipping with R+L Global Logistics on all that makes the holiday bright. 

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