ECA Speakers

We are so fortunate to have  several great speakers sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for growing and marketing Christmas trees.  Here is a bit of background on several of them including:  Shawn Schlotter , Mike Laine and Urlic Nyvold.   Take some time to meet them and share your story.   Also, take a moment to thank the St Croix Tree Farm staff.  It takes quite an effort to put on a meeting like this and they have done a great job.

                                              Shawn Schlotter

Shawn Schottler Ph.D.

St. Croix Valley Trees


Growing things and figuring out how to grow them better has been my life-long passion.  But, I learned from my parents that running a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm isn’t really about growing things, it’s about making families happy and having fun.  I have almost 40 years of experience in growing trees, but my perspective on what makes a successful tree farm is constantly evolving.  I have made enough mistakes over the years that I am pretty sure I can share some things not to do.  And, I have been attending MN and WI Christmas tree association meetings for many years, where I have learned countless things from our members that I would like to pass on. 

My day job for 25 years was as a research scientist for the Science Museum of MN.  Evaluating the “science” of growing trees and conducting studies, especially on new species, is something I enjoy and hopefully can share so that we can all grow better trees… and make families happy.

Ulrik Nyvold

Ulrik Kejser Nyvold MS

Levinsen Treeseed Co.

Ulrik Kejser Nyvold (47 years old) holds a Master in Forestry and Economics from the University of Copenhagen. He was initially involved in investments in forests for forest industries and institutional investors, but in 2007 he acquired the seed company “Levinsen -”. Ulrik has been running the company for 16 years with the strategic goal of delivering the best enhanced genetics through technically high quality seed produced in seed orchards controlled by Levinsen.


Levinsen is a Danish based seed company that has been producing seeds for trees, ornamentals and Christmas trees since 1953. The company handles 175 species of seeds on an annual basis – most of which is grown in seed orchards. The company manages and collects seeds from over 300 acres of seed orchards in Denmark and up to 2,000 acres of seed stands across Europe and the Caucasus mountains. The first Danish seed stand of Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) was established in 1904 and the first seed orchard for Christmas trees was established in 1964. Levinsen established their first seed orchards for Christmas trees with improved genetics in 1995. The area of seed orchards for Nordmann Fir and Turkish Fir comprises over 100 acres in 2023 – and new orchards will be grafted in 2024. 


The genetics are enhanced on several levels including general shape/structure, speed of growth, color, better needle retention after harvest and reduction of “naked shoulders”. Levinsen delivers seed to a large range of nurseries and Christmas tree growers across Europe and North America. Seed is supplied in either “Plug Quality” for optimal germination or a standard high grade for broad sowing. 

Mike Laine, Northern Minnesota Nursery MN    

I started my nursery in 1988 buying a pound of fraser fir seed and collecting balsam seed from wild trees around my farm.

I learned by the seat of my pants by trial and error (lot of errors).  I purchased books from colleges and picked other growers brains that were willing to share information and always sharing my results with them.

It has been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs but you have to take the good with the bad.  Meeting new people has been the most rewarding.