Texas Travel

Christmas Tree Farming in Texas

By Peter Simek 12.4.20

Eighteen years ago, Kenneth and Debi Capps decided they were tired of life in the big city. They bought some land near Devine, where they grew up, and moved back to teach at local schools. Now that they owned land, they wondered what they should do with it. Why not grow Christmas trees? “We had done some things like this with our kids when they were little,” Kenneth says. “We had this land and we thought, well, you know, that could be a neat little side hobby.”

Christmas tree farms are traditionally associated with colder regions, and many of the popular Christmas trees, like Fraser and Douglas firs, don’t usually grow well in the Texas climate. But in true Texas fashion, recent years have seen the Christmas tree farming industry booming, despite the obstacles.

All over the state, Texans who want to cut down their own trees have plenty of Christmas tree farms to choose from. “We’re seeing that most tree farms sell out of available trees every year,” Kenneth says. “I do think the market’s growing here in Texas.”

Texas Christmas tree farm
Debi and Kenneth Capps. Photo by Wynn Myers

Putting Down Roots

Christmas tree farming is an investment of time, love, and dedication. It can take five years for trees to grow to the 6- or 7-foot size that most people look for in Christmas trees. When the Capps started their farm, they knew that for the first few years they would be playing a waiting game.

“It’s one of those businesses where you keep working at it until you get to that future date to be able to open,” Kenneth says. “We were both working a different job at that point. It was just kind of a weekend or evening hobby that we did.”

Because their farm is located south of San Antonio, summers on the farm are quite hot and rain is often unpredictable. They chose two varieties of trees that would grow well in that climate: Leyland Cypress and Arizona Cypress. Although they weren’t the kinds of trees that frequent tree lots each December, they have some great qualities: They’re relatively clean, long-lasting, hypoallergenic, and have nice full shapes — and they thrive in Texas.

“As far south as we are, the lack of rainfall is probably our biggest challenge,” Kenneth says. “But everything that we grow, we have under drip irrigation. So they’re watered and they’re obviously taken care of well. But it would be nice to have a little more rain here and there.”

Texas Christmas tree farm
Photo by Wynn Myers


The Capps family now has a Christmas tree orchard that’s some 15,000 trees strong. Five years ago, business was so good they were able to make Christmas tree farming a full-time job. In addition to the Leyland and Arizona Cypress, they have a relationship with a farm in North Carolina that ships in some of the pre-cut tree varieties that aren’t grown in Texas. But Capps says most of his clients are there for the experience of cutting their own tree.

“A lot of our customers come out of San Antonio, and then we get a lot of people coming up from Laredo,” Kenneth says. “I think people are just looking for that wholesome country experience, that farm experience. And it’s here.”

At the Devine Acres Farm, the trees that are ready to be cut are tagged and priced before the season starts. When you arrive, you’re provided with a saw and can wander the forest until you find that perfect tree. When you find the tree you want, you can cut it yourself — but staff is on hand to help with the process. After the tree is cut, the staff helps carry it back, wrap it in netting, and secure it to your car’s roof.

Kenneth says visitors often spend more time on the farm after they have found and cut their tree. Each season, the Capps set up firepits for roasting marshmallows, take the kids on hayrides, and let you play with their farm animals. “It’s not just going to a tree lot and grabbing a tree,” he says. “If you choose, it can be a full-day experience.”

Texas Christmas tree farm
Photo by Wynn Myers

A Growing Trend

A few years ago, Devine Acres Farm joined the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association, a network of tree farmers that spread throughout the state. The organization’s website offers a wonderful database where Texans can find the Christmas tree farm closest to them this holiday season. Most of the farms open around Thanksgiving and stay open until the trees run out. But if you want to get a good selection, Capps says you should go sooner than later.

“I know we ended up closing early last year because we sold out of trees,” Kenneth says. “And I think a lot of farms are running into that. Because people want that experience — they want to go find that tree and they want to cut it down themselves.”

When your Texas tree is picked out, enjoy our guide to having a very merry Texas Christmas.

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