Focal Point: The Perfect Tree

Posted December 15, 2007
Updated July 18, 2012

Original Air Date: Dec. 15, 2007

North Carolina is first in the nation in Christmas tree sales and second in the nation in total harvest. It’s become a huge industry in the state over the past few decades.

There are about 1,600 farmers growing about 50 million trees on 31,000 acres. The industry raked in $134 million in 2006.

Native to North Carolina and what most Americans consider “the perfect tree,” the Fraser fir accounts for about 95 percent of those sales and is the main reason for the success of the Christmas tree industry in our state.

“The Fraser fir has just grown so much in popularity over the last 20 years that it’s all we can do to supply enough of them and keep up with that growth,” said Ron Hudler, who owns Hudler Carolina Tree Farm in West Jefferson, N.C.

“The Perfect Tree” takes a look inside North Carolina’s Christmas industry, from massive, commercial, wholesale operations to small choose-and-cut farms.

It looks at how researchers and agricultural extension agents have worked to help tree farmers grow the perfect tree. It also looks at the environmental impact of tree farms and the move to organic farming.

The documentary also profiles growers and their farms and follows trees from the fields to the homes of North Carolinians. One of those trips follows a Fraser fir from a field in Ashe County to the Blue Room of the White House.

Hosted by WRAL News anchor Bill Leslie, the program also examines what different people see in “the perfect tree.”

Watch the Documentary

The Perfect Tree

The Perfect Wreath

When Fraser firs in North Carolina are harvested many of the leftover trimmings are used to make wreaths and garlands. For many Christmas tree farms, wreath and garland production has become an important part of the business that turns waste into profit. Watch "The Perfect Wreath."

Online Resources

Web links are provided for informational purposes only. Views and opinions expressed on the Web sites of these organizations do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of WRAL-TV,, nor its parent company, Capitol Broadcasting Co.

Host: Bill Leslie
Writer/Producer: Clay Johnson
Photographer/Editor: Jay Jennings
Research & Production Assistant: Laura Riddle


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all