Storms didn't hurt Christmas tree crop

Photo by John Bryant
Picking the perfect tree
Makenzie Linebaugh, right, helps her dad, David, pick out the perfect Christmas tree Thursday afternoon at the Betsytown Snow Shak on West Elk Avenue. Business owner Danny Ward, left, said the day after Thanksgiving is usually a big day for tree sales.


  With the turkey and dressing in the fridge, the holiday smell of Thanksgiving dinner gives way to the fresh, pine scent of a real Christmas tree.
  The good news for consumers is that heavy rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan has not affected the Christmas tree crop of Carter County's highlands or Western North Carolina.
   "The rainfall really helped them," said Jeremy Clarke, of Oaks Nursery where the trees are harvested on Buck Mountain. "It keeps the needles from drying out and falling off."
  Oaks Nursery location in Hampton is one of several sites around Carter County that began this week peddling live Christmas trees to holiday traditionalists.
  Christmas tree shoppers may wander through groves of uncut trees and cut their own or have trees cut for them. They can also select a freshly cut tree on site. Shoppers also can buy balled and burlapped live trees fit for replanting after the Christmas season has passed.
  Clarke was busy Wednesday afternoon setting out the first live trees of both the cut and ball and burlap varieties. He said the nursery harvested roughly 2,000 trees for the upcoming holiday season.
  The Tennessee Department of Agriculture recommends selecting a tree with a forest fragrance and a rich green color. Many different tree varieties are grown in Tennessee, including white pine, Virginia pine, Scotch pine, blue spruce, Norway spruce and Fraser Fir.
   A tree abundantly grown in the highlands of Southern Appalachia, the Fraser fir has remained a popular tree among real-tree buyers for decades.
  "It's the Cadillac of Christmas trees," said Clark of the Fraser fir tree.
   More and more communities are operating events such as the "Chipping of the Green" to recycle live trees. In a survey reported by the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), 93 percent of consumers reported recycling their real Christmas tree in a local program or in their own garden or yard.
  While decorative, Christmas trees also function as a critical part of the planet's ecosystem. The NCTA reports there are approximately one million acres of growing Christmas trees in the United States and every acre grown produces the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people.
   Most historians agree that the first decorated Christmas trees appeared in the U.S. in the mid 1800's.
   While Tennessee and North Carolina produce thousands of trees, Oregon and Washington produced millions of Christmas trees every year with crop values in the tens of millions of dollars.
  The TDA recommends the following procedures to keep trees fresh and safe during the Christmas season:
  -When you get home with your tree, make a fresh cut across the base of the trunk.
  -Immediately place the tree in a water-holding stand. If the base of the tree dries out, a seal will form and you will need to make a new cut.
  -For best results, keep the tree cool and safe. Keep your tree away from the fireplace, heater and television.
  -Always unplug lights when you are away from home or before you go to bed.
   -Be sure light cords are in good working order.