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CHRISTMAS TREES IN NORTH CAROLINA

 

Did you know that North Carolina has over more than 850 growers producing approximately 50 million trees on more than 38,000 acres? Did you know that Fraser Fir trees represent 94 percent of all species grown in North Carolina and over 26% of all Christmas trees grown in the US?

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The North Carolina Christmas Tree Industry is ranked second in the nation in the number of trees harvested and cash receipts. 2017 Christmas tree sales in North Carolina totaled in excess of $86 million dollars according to the 2017 USDA Agriculture Census. This calculation does not include sales of value-added products such as wreaths, roping and other greenery.

 

The North Carolina Fraser fir has been judged our nation’s best through a contest sponsored by the National Christmas Tree Association and has been chosen for the official White House Christmas tree fifteen times (more than any other species)…in 1971, 1973, 1982, 1984, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2018,2021 and 2023.

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The North Carolina Fraser fir Christmas tree is one of the most popular Christmas trees in North America and is shipped to every state in the U.S. as well as to the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Japan and other points all over the world.

 

The Fraser fir was named for John Fraser, a Scottish botanist who explored the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late 1700s. It is a pyramid-shaped tree that reaches a maximum height of 80 feet and a trunk diameter of 1-1/2 feet.

 

The Fraser fir grows naturally only in the southern Appalachians, above 3,000 feet. The cool temperatures and lots of rainfall of the North Carolina High Country are what causes the Fraser fir to keep its needles throughout the Christmas season.

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Over 58 million Fraser fir are grown in North Carolina on 38,000 acres for use as Christmas trees, and the Fraser fir represents over 94% of all the trees grown in North Carolina as Christmas trees. Christmas Trees haven’t always been a Christmas Tradition. No one really knows who put up the first Christmas tree, but some historians believe that even the Egyptians and Romans used some form of an evergreen to decorate their homes in late December.

 

The first Christmas tree marketplace was created in 1851 in New York City, however, it took North Carolina until 1955 to begin growing Fraser Fir seedlings specifically for harvesting. In 1959, five Avery County growers created the NCCTA. In 1964, North Carolina was able to achieve selling one million Christmas trees with a price that averaged 1 dollar per foot.

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In 1971, the Fraser Fir was selected to be the official White House Christmas tree for the first time. The following year, over 400,000 Fraser Firs were harvested, and by 1979, the number had risen to 1.4 million. In both 1982 & 1984, the NC Fraser Fir was selected to be the White House Tree. Since then the Fraser Fir has been selected 12 more times to be showcased in the White House. By 1988, the NC Christmas Tree industry was valued at 55 million dollars and harvested 4.1 million trees every year.

By 2006, western North Carolina Christmas tree growers had reduced pesticide use by half and continue to keep pesticide use as low as possible. The NCCTA continues to face challenges of modern production including changes in markets, issues with labor, and increasing market complexity.

Information for this article provided by the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association (NCCTA)
                https://ncchristmastrees.com/

Special thanks to Jennifer Greene, Executive Director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association
for her contributions to this article

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