Christmas tree sales healthy for NC

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 20, 2020

By Seth Nagy
N.C. Cooperative Extension

For many of us, the Christmas season couldn’t get here quick enough for 2020. This year has been full of unimaginable craziness, but it seems the spirit of Christmas is shining bright. Early indications are, this Christmas season, tree sales are up.

The Fraser fir is the Cadillac of Christmas trees, but it’s not the only Christmas tree. In North Carolina, there are more than a dozen trees grown as Christmas trees. These include; Canaan fir, Concolor fir, Nordmann fir, Turkish fir, blue spruce, Norway spruce, white spruce, eastern red cedar, Leyland cypress, “Carolina Sapphire” Arizona cypress, “Blue Ice” Arizona cypress, “Green Giant” arborvitae, white pine, Virginia pine, and Scotch pine. However, 96% or more of production in N.C. is the state’s native tree, Fraser fir.

North Carolina is second only to Oregon for total Christmas tree sales. Annual sales for N.C. are 5.4 million trees; Oregon is 8.5 million trees. Michigan trails behind with 1.3 million in annual tree sales, with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin rounding out the top five states for Christmas tree sales. Avery County leads North Carolina in tree production. Fraser firs grow at 4,500 feet in elevation, however, if planted, they can grow on north-facing slopes down as low as 2,300 feet elevation.

There are 1,300 Christmas tree farms in North Carolina totaling 30,000 acres. Annual tree sales in our state are estimated to be $350 million. However, this is not easy money for tree farmers. It takes 10 years to grow a Fraser fir. The farmer makes multiple visits to each tree every year. The trees have to be shaped and fertilized, and weeds have to be controlled.

Seth Nagy is the county extension director in Caldwell County.

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