Local News

N.C. State Geneticist Hopes to Create Better Christmas Trees

Posted December 5, 2006 8:45 p.m. EST
Updated December 5, 2006 10:18 p.m. EST

The sign on Dr. John Frampton's door at North Carolina State University reads "Christmas Tree Genetics."

"To my knowledge, I'm the only scientist that calls himself a Christmas tree geneticist in the nation," he said.

For 10 years, Frampton has been studying Christmas trees year-round. State. He said he looks closely at young seedlings, trying to grow them faster and healthier. He works in a greenhouse and growth chamber, along with a team that also studies seedlings.

Molecular biologist Ross Whetten said that studying different types of trees from countries like Turkey helps in the studies. Frampton and his colleagues are looking at cross-pollinating trees of different species.

"We may be able to actually identify trees that have a higher level of disease resistance," Whetten said,

Little seeds collected by the scientists could impact an enormous industry.

"In North Carolina, it's over $100 million a year," said Whetten.

North Carolina produces more Christmas trees than any other state in the nation, except for Oregon. Up to 6 million Christmas tree are harvested every year in North Carolina, and Frampton said he wants to further that measure of success.