Darrell Blackwelder: It’s Christmas tree time

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2014

I counted seven truckloads of Fraser fir Christmas trees heading toward the north Tuesday on my quest for the perfect tree. I traveled to Allegany County and visited the Pardue Christmas Tree Farm for a fresh cut tree.

I can easily recall my childhood adventure of hunting the perfect “Charlie Brown” cedar tree on the pasture fence rows. The tree was often laced with honeysuckle and maybe a bird’s nest — a true Christmas tree if there ever was one.                          

Live trees we buy today are picture perfect as compared to trees 15 years ago. Constant research and competition for the perfect tree make North Carolina one of the leaders in the Christmas tree industry. This year’s sales are booming for producers. Many commercial Christmas tree producers are reporting record sales this season. Below are a few facts that may be of interest for those in search of perfect tree.

• The tradition was started more than 400 years ago in Germany.

• By 1900, one in five American families decorated trees during Christmas. By 1930, nearly every home became a part of this tradition.

• North Carolina is second only to Oregon in Christmas tree production, supplying 19 percent of live tree sales in the United States.

• North Carolina has 1,600 growers producing an estimated 50 million Fraser fir Christmas trees growing on more than 25,000 acres.

• Fraser fir trees represent more than 90 percent of all species grown in North Carolina.

• Christmas trees produced in North Carolina are shipped to all 50 states including countries as far away as Japan and Bermuda.

• The North Carolina Fraser fir has been chosen as the nation’s best Christmas tree for the White House eight times.

• It takes 12 years on the average to grow an average Fraser fir, about eight years to grow a white pine Christmas tree.

• White pine, Scotch pine and Virginia pine are also produced as live Christmas trees in North Carolina and here in Rowan County.

• Fraser firs grow best at elevations above 3,000 feet.

• The best way to judge a fresh cut tree is to pinch the needles. They should be soft and aromatic. Shake the tree. If needles fall, go to another tree.

• Trim 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the butt end of trunk to put into water. Always make a new cut before placing into the stand.

• A typical Christmas tree will consume up to one quart of water a day.

• Those who want a Christmas tree in their landscape should plant a balled and burlapped white pine, Norway spruce or Colorado blue spruce. Fraser firs will not thrive here.

• There are more than 400 choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms in North Carolina, including Rowan County.

Christmas tree producers had rain at just the right time for beautiful greenery. The selection is wonderful and the prices reasonable. For more information about Christmas trees in North Carolina, log on the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association website at http://www.ncchristmastrees.com