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Christmas Tree Growers Not Concerned About People Going Artificial

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WAYNE COUNTY, N.C. — Retailers say the number of artificial Christmas trees is at an all-time high, but many farmers say their business continues to grow despite the new trend.

Jimmy Hinson and his wife planted their first Christmas tree crop 19 years ago. Today, they have more than 5,000.

"We've had good rain all year. We've had a good year. This is a good crop of trees," Hinson said.

In Wayne County, families pick their tree in the field. Workers cut it down, shake it down and load it up.

"This is going to be the kids' first real Christmas tree. We always got the little fake ones, so we decided to get a real one this year," said Shereen Lanier.

Many people are going the other way. The

National Christmas Tree Association

said the number of households with fake Christmas trees increased by more than 40 percent in the last decade. They estimate more than 50 million Americans now have artificial trees, which has some growers worried, but not Hinson.

"I can't really say that it has hurt my business. There are some people out there that are always going to have a real Christmas tree. I've never had an artificial one," Hinson said.

Hinson expects to sell about 500 trees this year. He said most of his business are regulars from in and around Wayne County. He believes his base is rooted in family holiday tradition.

"A lot of people like to see their tree cut," Hinson said.

The Lainers said now that they have made the switch, they expect to stick with it.

"I think the real ones are a little cheaper and I like the smell," said Rodney Lainer.

North Carolina is the second-largest Christmas tree-producing state in the country behind Oregon.