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Steigerwaldt Tree Farms: A Brief History

In 1957, Ed Steigerwaldt, Sr. began acquiring land and planting trees for the future. This included
Christmas trees, which were initially transplanted from naturally seeded areas in forest situations. He did
this because he couldn’t afford to buy many expensive nursery trees. He had four boys to help with this
as well as every day tree farm work. This included fertilizing trees by hand, shearing, pruning, and
spraying herbicides. Money was very tight and all of us learned to work from an early age.

In the early years, between 1957 and 1970, most of the work was completed by family, but the tree farm
was growing. Tree planting now included many nursery-grown trees, including white pine, scotch pine,
Colorado blue spruce, black hills spruce, and of course, balsam fir.

Tree shearing was just evolving and Ed Steigerwaldt, Sr. gave many demonstrations on just how to
accomplish this. He was a professional forester and an active member and President of the Wisconsin
Christmas Tree Growers Association.

I graduated from the University of Michigan with a forestry degree and went to work full-time in the family
business. Then, as it is now, it was a forestry consulting and Christmas tree enterprise.
Today, Steigerwaldt Tree Farms includes 2,500 acres of forest and Christmas tree land located in five
Wisconsin counties. Our tree sales are centered on Fraser fir, balsam fir, and white pine. Our foresters
manage 350,000 acres of timberland for our clients.

Our “spot” in the business is high-quality trees. We like to develop trees with a medium taper and with
fairly tight shearing. We certainly believe in using fertilizer to promote excellent growth and color and take
steps to create very nice Christmas trees. This includes picking cones off Fraser fir early in their
development. This step is very expensive, but allows trees to put more energy into growth instead of
cone development. The result is a denser, higher quality trees.

Our farm managers are professional foresters and ISA Certified Arborists who have decades of

Today, Steigerwaldt Tree Farms is in its third generation with my oldest grandson and granddaughter (4 th
generation) ready to begin working in the fields this spring. It has been very special to see their interest in
this family business, now in its 64 th year.

Tree planting this spring will emphasize Fraser fir and balsam fir which, if everything goes well, will
develop into saleable Christmas trees nine to ten years from now.

Our 2021 harvest numbers are estimated to be somewhat below 2020, but we are hoping for a good
growing season, which could help more trees make it to market.