The pine-trees are already being sold around the country; the cheapest ones cost around 2500 HUF, but the prices can easily rise if someone asks for a nicer tree. Only a few people know that most Hungarians buy trees that were grown on a 100 hectare area in one little town near Nagykanizsa, called Surd, where locals have 6 million trees, reports magyaridok.hu.
The residents of Surd have been busy preparing for Christmas, just like the rest of the country, but their case is still unique; 98% of the residents work full- or part time in the Christmas-tree industry, as most of the trees sold in Hungary are grown there. Even if someone doesn’t have a plantation, they will still find a job around town; locals say that they are always short on workers during the Christmas season, so they are ready to “book” the best laborers well ahead of December.
On the outskirts of town the trees are lined up like in an orchard. Every plantation is well tended, and trees in every size and kind can be found there. Most families plant the Nordmann fir which has been the most popular type in the past 15 years, but the silver fir and the European larch are also present on the market, and some families even have Douglas fir.
If a tree is not so perfect, the owners cut the branches off, tie them together and sell them. Nothing goes to waste, a local woman said: many people buy only a couple of branches instead of a great tree, and some decorate the tombs of their loved ones with those.
The pine tree business costs a lot: one owner said that instead of going to the market himself, he sold the trees to a merchant, because the additional costs were too high when he sold the trees himself. The additional cost per tree is around 1500-2000 HUF if the owner decides to sell the trees on the market: he has to pay for a stall, which can cost up to 400.000 HUF for 10-12 days, the delivery cost is 110.000 HUF per season, plus the housing and accommodation for the family in Budapest. The costs include the unsold trees as well.
Many owners sell their trees on a piece-price, and only some of them sell it in metres, so a smaller, but more firm tree can cost the same as a bigger, but less desirable one. Similar to the previous years, the Nordmann fir is the most expensive, the smaller ones cost 5000-8000 HUF; this type is not only beautiful, but it takes 15 years until it reaches 2 m. The silver fir is cheaper, 4000-6000 HUF/m, while European larches are around 2000 HUF.
Merchants have already bought the trees, so we’re bound to bump into them more frequently in the upcoming weeks. Plantation owners will come to Budapest in the middle of December, and those who want to have really fresh trees should look around in the merchants’ market, because the trees they are selling there will only be cut down before the owner departs to the city.
The mayor of Surd, János Kanász, who also has a plantation, revealed how the town became a major pine tree manufacturer: around 50 years ago, some locals decided to grow some trees, so much as an experiment. When they went to Budapest to sell them they were so successful, that soon more and more people started a business.
In 2015, almost everyone in the town is connected to the tree business in one way or the other, and most families have third or fourth generation tree manufacturers. Growing pine trees requires an adequate climate and soil. “Lots of work and money are behind those trees which finally make it to a family’s living room” Kanász said. Besides plowing and mowing, the trees have to be sprayed regularly as well, and after a great amount of trees were stolen a couple of years ago, the plantations are now protected by the local militia.
based on an article of magyaridok.hu
translated by Adrienn Sain
Copy editor: bm