Some Iowans still dedicate the day after Thanksgiving to finding the perfect Christmas tree. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Before Black Friday became a frenetic day for shopping, the day after Thanksgiving for many families meant a trip to the local tree farm.

If your family still follows that holiday tradition, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship offers the following information to locate a locally grown Christmas tree:

“Iowa is fortunate to have more than 100 Christmas tree farms in all parts of the state,” said Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Selecting a fresh Christmas tree can be part of a great family tradition and is an opportunity to connect with an Iowa farmer and support the local economy.”

The Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association has a searchable online directory of tree farms across Iowa on their website at Besides the locations of the farms, the “Find a Farm” directory also includes a phone number and hours of operation for each farm to assist in planning. The website also includes information on types of Christmas trees and tips on keeping your tree in good condition during the holiday season.

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Iowa Christmas tree farms devote over 1,500 acres to Christmas tree production in Iowa and as a result harvest approximately 39,500 Christmas trees each year. The result is a $1 million dollar industry contributing to Iowa’s economy.

Annually, members of the Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association (ICTGA) donate trees to the Capitol Building in Des Moines, including trees for the Governor’s Office, the Lt. Governor’s Office, and the Rotunda. The beautifully decorated Rotunda tree is available for viewing daily by the public on the second floor of the Capitol Building.

It takes 6 to 12 years to grow a Christmas tree before it is ready to be sold. Most tree farms in Iowa are 3 to 8 acres in size and sell trees by choose and harvest method, where customers come to the farm and cut their own trees.

Following are ICTGA tips to keep in mind to make your trip to a Christmas tree farm more enjoyable:

· Be sure you know what size tree fits in your home, both height and width, before you leave. Trees always look smaller in the field and there is nothing worse than bringing a tree indoors only to find it’s too big.

· Wear comfortable clothes, sturdy shoes, and gloves that you aren’t afraid to get dirty.

· Make sure the tree you pick has a straight trunk and will fit properly in your tree stand.

· Fresh trees need water. Once you get your tree home remember to check the water daily. Trees can use up to a gallon of water daily.

· Make sure you unplug any tree lights before you leave home or go to bed.

· Remember – fresh cut Christmas trees are biodegradable! Recycle your tree after Christmas.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has additional information on selecting and caring for Christmas trees.