Christmas Trees Boost Rates in Unexpected Places

Posted: 18 Nov, 2016 by Peggy Dorf


Categories: Freight Rates

Tags: CarrierOwner-OperatorBroker

Across the country, load-truck ratios are rocketing up in areas that produce and ship Christmas trees, with ratios as high as 500 loads per truck. That was the ratio for flatbeds out of Spokane on Tuesday, with 3,000 load posts and only 6 truck posts. The ratio out of Spokane declined to 391 yesterday for flatbeds, and 31 loads per truck for vans, which is still ridiculously high for that market.

Several other markets added to the truck-finding frenzy, including Medford, OR (665 loads per truck for flatbeds, and 38 for vans), Missoula, MT (431 flatbed loads per truck, down from 1,543-to-1 on Wednesday, with 10 and 27 for vans, respectively.) Load-to-truck ratios also spiked in Saginaw, MI; Eau Claire, WI; and Duluth, MN.  

Between 25 and 30 million fresh Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states, but the top ten tree-growing states are:

    1. Oregon
    2. North Carolina
    3. Michigan
    4. Pennsylvania
    5. Wisconsin
    6. Washington
    7. New York
    8. Virginia
    9. Ohio
    10. Minnesota

If you want to haul Christmas trees, you have a week or two, at most, to take advantage of this seasonal opportunity. Christmas trees are perishable, and they're sometimes moved in reefers, but you're more likely to find a load of trees for your van or flatbed trailer. Reefers are in high demand throughout the Pacific Northwest and much of California, but you'll most likely be moving produce and packaged, refrigerated or frozen food for Thanksgiving.

Darker states have higher load-to-truck ratios, meaning there's less competition for flatbed loads

Some tree growers like to pack ice in with trees that go by van, so your trailer will be wet as well as messy from fir needles and excess soil. You'll need to wash out the trailer when you're done.

The pick-up location is often a tree farm, and there may be multiple delivery locations, at stores or temporary tree lots. Load and unload times, available equipment and labor are highly variable, to say the least. The driver may need to do some or all of the work. Bring gloves! 

When you're all done, the trailer will smell like a pine forest, and you'll have brought some holiday cheer to hundreds of homes. 


Find truckloads of Christmas trees with DAT Power, the biggest and fastest load board in the trucking industry

Leave your comments

  • profile


    • 11/25/2016 8:08:06 AM

    And still the ratio being crazy in favor to the truck brokers were paying funny low rates. Until they learn to pay proper rate when the demand for truck is crazy high, they will fail their customers over and over again

  • profile


    • 12/2/2016 6:44:38 AM

    I did not see any freight rates that reflect a ratio of 500 loads to a truck during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Under that scenario rates for a 10 stop tree load should have been on the $4-$5 USD / Mile. Most of the brokers I dealt with in the past did not even want to pay $ 2 USD/ per mile for a multi-stop tree load, or poinsettias etc etc. Therefore I did not haul any this year. 5 years ago a load of trees from the NC-VA line farms to pensacola fl was paying $ 3500 to the truck with 10 stops in line along the way, no zig zagging. This year ( 2016 ) the same load pays $ 2500 on a good day, and there is people out there killing for those loads, thinking that they are really doing something. Never mind all the trash left on your trailer when finished ( A $ 125.00 trailer wash ).

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