December is here and now that the turkeys have been cooked the Christmas season is fully upon us, and with Christmas comes Christmas trees.
Some family’s will head over to the local church Christmas tree lot or may drive up into the mountains to pick and cut the perfect Christmas tree, or maybe they will go up in the attic and dig out their artificial tree saving themselves the struggle of lining up the lights just right each year.
But what many don’t realize is that Christmas trees are big business in the state, with more than 1,300 growers producing Christmas trees in the state on over 40,000 acres of land.
Nearly all of the Christmas trees grown and harvested in the state are Fraser Firs, 98 percent of them actually.
Some growers harvest just a few dozen trees a year, while others harvest hundreds of thousands of trees a season.
Ashe, Alleghany and Avery counties lead the state in land use for Christmas tree farms with more than 14,100 acres of land going to tree farming in 2012 in Ashe County.
That same year Alleghany County had more than 9,700 acres of tree farms, and Avery County had more than 7,300 acres of the firs.
Those three counties alone make up more than 800 of the 1,300 Christmas tree farms in the state.
In 2012 more than 4.2 million Christmas trees were cut in the state, increasing greatly from 2007 when just over 3 million trees were harvested in the state.
About 19 percent of all Christmas trees harvested in the nation each year come from North Carolina.
The United States Department of Agriculture conducts a census of agriculture in the nation and U.S. territories every five years with the next census set to be completed in 2018 for the 2017 year.
North Carolina sits in second in the nation in Christmas tree production both in number of trees harvested and cash receipts, according to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association (NCCTA).
The Fraser Firs produced in North Carolina don’t just go to provide Christmas trees in the state, or even in the nation, but North Carolina trees end up in Mexico, the Caribbean and even Japan, according to the NCCTA.
North Carolina trees have even been featured in the White House not one, but twelve times since 1971.
A North Carolina Fraser Fir has been chosen as the official White House Christmas tree more than any other type of tree, being chosen in 1971, 1973, 1982, 1984, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2012.
It takes anywhere from twelve to fifteen years for a Christmas tree to reach retail height, making the process of bringing a Christmas tree to market long and often arduous as each Christmas tree is visited an average of 100 times before it grows to maturity.
Keeping Christmas Trees Safe in Your Home
The State Department of Agriculture offers tips for keeping a Christmas tree looking great and staying safe in your home this holiday season.
“Real Christmas trees offer a great addition to your holiday decorations, but they do need a little extra attention,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. “With proper care, a real tree can last up to two months, providing your home with a wonderful aroma and truly festive feel.”
The department offers the following tips for consumers to care for their real Christmas tree this holiday season:
- If you can’t set up your tree immediately, put it in a bucket of water in a cool, shady place.
- Cut off a half inch from the base of the tree before placing it in a stand.
- Use a stand that will hold at least a gallon of water.
- Check the water levels often. A tree may take up to a gallon of water in the first 24 hours, and a quart per day after that.
- Place tree away from heat sources, such as heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators and sunny windows.
- Check lights and cords for broken bulbs and frayed wiring.
- Do not overload electrical circuits.
- Turn off lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Remove tree from your home promptly after Christmas and recycle it.