Local News

Despite Drought, No Grinch-Christmas for Tree Farmers

Posted November 18, 2007 7:26 p.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2007 10:18 a.m. EST

— The Thanksgiving holiday is days away, but many folks are looking past the turkey and on to the tinsel. Christmas tree farms in the Triangle are already doing business and in spite of the drought, experts said this year's crop is going to be good and green, just like last year.

Christmas trees tagged for sale this year had roots running deep into the ground. The soil was still moist there, so the trees were able to get enough water this summer.

“I can't complain that the weather's hurt me," tree farmer Frank Barick said. "I think that we survived the drought very well."

North Carolina State University Forestry Specialist Jeff Owen said that up to 9 inches of rain fell across the N.C. mountains in late October, replenishing moisture before the tree harvest.

Owen said the rain didn't come in time to save many tree seedlings planted this year, however. That means the future Christmas tree crop may be a little thinner than usual.

As for price, farmers said trees sold in the Triangle should cost about the same as last year. For those interested in a Fraser fir, it grows in the mountains, and gas prices could drive their cost up.

Owen said Fraser fir trees make up about 95 percent of the state's tree crop. He estimated a 6- to 7-foot Fraser fir tree would cost between $40 and $80.

"It's Christmas time. It's alright to splurge a little bit now and then to get what you like," Christmas tree shopper Ian Torr said.

The state is expected to harvest 5.5 million trees that will bring in an estimated $130 million for stores and lots in North Carolina and other states in the Southeast.