Maui residents are already able to buy Christmas trees, as shipping company Matson said that the majority of its tree shipments from the Pacific Northwest arrived last weekend.
In fact, Kahului Walmart started selling trees last week. Home Depot said it is planning to sell the trees starting Wednesday and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse could also be selling trees by Wednesday or Friday, store officials said. Kmart will begin tree sales Thanksgiving Day.
For customers who want to support local farmers, two Kula farms will be selling their trees the weekend after Thanksgiving.
These Norfolk pines will be on sale soon at Kula Kelly’s Farm.
KELLY BASS photo
Kelly Bass and Mike Wilson’s dog rests near some Norfolk pines at Kula Kelly’s Farm in Kula. The farm will start selling its trees Dec. 1.
KELLY BASS photo
At Kula Kelly's Farm, husband-and-wife team Kelly Bass and Mike Wilson will again be selling their Norfolk pines, cut fresh from their 2-acre farm in Kula.
"We take out the tree (customers) want. . . . They pick whatever they want. People bring their kids. . . . It's a fun experience," Bass said.
The trees cost $10 per foot. The farm has trees ranging from 3 feet to 14 feet tall.
LOCALLY GROWN CHRISTMAS TREES
Kula Kelly's Farm
Where: 742 Holopuni Road
Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22. On weekdays, pickup is available by appointment only. For more information, call Mike Wilson at 281-2277.
Kula Botanical Gardens
Where: 638 Kekaulike Ave.
Tree sales will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 1, 6, 7 and 8. Trees also available at the gift shop Dec. 10 to 19, although selection will be limited. For more information, call 878-1715.
At the Kula Botanical Gardens, the McCord family will be selling Monterey pines that are freshly cut on the farm and taken down to the gift shop, where people select their own.
Trees start at 3 feet for $34; 6 feet for $60; and 17 feet for $575.
Warren McCord, chairman of the board of the family business, said that the taller the tree the more years of care by the family.
While the McCords continue their decadeslong tradition of selling the trees in Kula, this year they are expanding to Whole Foods Market.
Last year, Whole Foods at Maui Mall approached the McCords, asking to sell their trees.
Taking a measured approach, the McCords sold 60 trees to the market but with strict orders that the tree bottoms would be cut and placed in water immediately following the trip from Kula to Kahului.
McCord said that he wanted to make sure the trees were sold fresh.
The McCords even went to check the trees at the store and were pleased that Whole Foods made good on its promise.
This year, Whole Foods stores on Oahu will also sell the farm's trees, McCord said.
"We are quite excited about this," he said Friday.
He said he hasn't heard of others selling Monterey pines at stores and doesn't think other retailers would take all the time to provide the proper care for the trees.
"We are making history," he said.
Shipping of the McCord trees to the Whole Foods stores starts this week.
McCord estimates that 120 trees will go to the Maui store and 130 trees will go to Oahu. He added that there are many more trees at the farm for customers there. He expects to sell around 1,500 trees this year.
As for trees from the Mainland, Matson's S.S. Maui arrived on Oahu on Nov. 16 with a majority of the trees. Another shipment aboard the MV Manoa was expected Saturday on Oahu. A smaller number of trees arrived Nov. 9 on the Manoa. Those trees, according to Matson, were targeted for retail displays and limited Neighbor Island sales. A final shipment of trees will arrive Saturday on the S.S. Maui.
The trees from Oregon and Washington farms are loaded into refrigerated containers. Matson estimates it ships more than 100,000 trees every holiday season.
According to the state Department of Agriculture, only six out of 60 estimated containers of trees that arrived Nov. 16 had to be treated for slugs. That is an improvement over last year, when about half of the containers had to be held for treatment or returned to the Mainland.
To help remedy the problem, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture worked with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon growers to develop new protocols to reduce the number of hitchhiking pests.
The containers found to have slugs not already found in Hawaii were being treated last week by hot-water treatment, a system developed by the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources as a treatment for coqui frogs in potted plants, according to a news release.
Each year, an estimated 250,000 Christmas trees are imported, mostly from Oregon and Washington state, according to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.