Busy season begins for NC Christmas tree industry
Posted November 25, 2011
Updated November 26, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Now that Thanksgiving dinner is out of the way, the busy season has started for North Carolina's multimillion dollar Christmas tree industry.
State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said fresh, state-grown Christmas trees will be available at stands and farmers markets this weekend, as well as at farms in the western part of the state, where most of the trees are grown.
Tree farmer John Carpenter said North Carolina's Frasier fir is popular for its quality.
"It's the Cadillac of Christmas trees. It holds its needles longer, smells better, stays fresher," Carpenter said.
The busiest days for Christmas tree shopping are the first two Saturdays in December.
A steady stream of shoppers at the State Farmer's Market in Raleigh snapped up many trees Friday before growers had finished setting up.
North Carolina Growers are also donating about 1,000 trees to military families at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Camp Lejeune, Fort Story in Virginia and Fort Bliss in Texas.
The North Carolina Christmas tree industry got a boost this year from a historic drought and wildfires that killed thousands of trees on farms in Texas and Oklahoma.
Many farmers in those states plan to import trees from North Carolina to supplement any they have left, said Marshall Cathey, president of the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association. David Barfield, 53, of New Carney, Texas, said he plans to sell about 100 trees — nearly all Frasier firs brought in from North Carolina.
More than 5 million Christmas trees are harvested annually from North Carolina's approximately 1,000 growers, making the state the second-largest producer in the country. The industry generated about $85 million for the state's economy last year.