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The King family sells several varieties of Christmas trees in the area each season

by Kris Ann Hegle

SBJ Contributing Writer

If Roy and Linda King never planted another seedling, they still would be selling Christmas trees 10 years from now. According to the Kings, who own King Tree Farm in Ozark, it takes about eight to 10 years for a tree to mature.

The Kings first planted trees in 1980. This year, Roy King estimated they will sell 6,000 Christmas trees to folks in the Springfield area, along with wreaths, garlands, assorted decorations and tree stands. Some of the Christmas trees are sold to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Ozark. Others are cut down and taken to Springfield, where they are sold at four Treeland of the Ozarks Inc. retail lots owned by the Kings.

Quite a few people like to make the trek to King Tree Farm so they can pick out and cut down a Scotch pine or a white pine tree. The price of each tree varies by size and species. The most popular Christmas tree is a 6-foot Scotch pine, which sells for $19.95 with coupon.

"We've got all kinds of trees at the Treeland lots Scotch pines, white pines, Douglas firs and grand firs," Roy King said. "About two-thirds of the trees we sell are about 6 feet to 6 1/2 feet tall. We also have a limited number of 8- to 9-foot Noble firs."

The Kings also sell eastern red cedar trees at the Treeland lots. The eastern red cedar is native to the area.

"The woods around here are full of them," Roy King said. "We always had an eastern red cedar for our Christmas tree when I was a kid. I call them hillbilly Christmas trees."

Many of the other trees, such as the Scotch pine, are not native to the Ozarks. Growing these trees can be difficult because the species can fall prey to disease and pests.

"It looks like a lot of fun out here, but this is work," Roy King said. "We have to control the vegetation around the trees, stake them up, spray them with pesticide or herbicide, shear them, mow around them, cut off dead limbs and replant the trees that die from time to time. You work in chiggers, poison ivy, rain, ice and snow. Only a farmer could appreciate something like this."

King Tree Farm has no full-time employees, but during the holidays, the Kings employ about a dozen workers.

Much of the work done by seasonal employees involves getting the Christmas trees ready for display at the Treeland lots. A hole is drilled in the base of each tree stump, and the trees are placed upright on stands that are 4 to 5 feet apart.

"A lot of our competitors, like Wal-Mart or local grocery stores, bind their trees up in baling wire and prop them up against a wall outside the store," Linda King said. "All of our trees are displayed forest-style. That allows the customer to walk around the tree and see its shape."

In addition to the tree farm, the Kings own two other businesses King Consulting, a tax and bookkeeping service; and Great Plains Accounting Software. The Kings also cultivate a large truck patch in the summer.

"We thought the tree business and the accounting and software businesses would all be seasonal," Roy King said. "As it turns out, we have three full-time businesses. We're always working with the trees, and somebody always needs a bookkeeper or wants to buy and install accounting software."

This holiday season, the Kings started selling their Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving. Treeland of the Ozarks retail lots are located at the Town & Country Shopping Center on North Kansas Expressway, Kickapoo Plaza on South Campbell, the Glen Isle Shopping Center on South Glenstone and the Southern Hills Shopping Center on East Sunshine.

KING TREE FARM:

Year founded: 1980

Address and phone number: 2730 Southernview Road, Ozark 65721 581-6009 and 881-1300

Owner: King Tree Farm

PHOTO CAPTION:

Nelda Salkil, a Treeland employee, bundles up a Christmas tree for a holiday customer.

PHOTO CAPTION:

Nelda Salkil drills a hole in the trunk of a Christmas tree so it can be displayed upright.

PHOTO CAPTION:

Nelda Salkil, a Treeland employee, inspects one of the trees from King Tree Farm. The Christmastime business bustles this time of year. [[In-content Ad]]

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