N.C. Department of Agriculture helps consumers find and care for fresh Christmas trees

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s 2013 Christmas tree crop promises to be one of the best in recent years, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“There was plenty of rain this year, which helped Christmas tree growers across the state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Consumers can find locally grown Christmas trees at choose-and-cut farms, tree lots and farmers markets across the state.”

Growers traditionally start selling Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving, but because the holiday falls later this year, many growers are already open for the season.

“No matter where you live in the state, it won’t be hard to find a fresh North Carolina tree,” said Bill Glenn, a marketing specialist with the department. “Even most of the trees you find at retail and grocery stores were grown in the state.”

To make the search for the perfect tree easier, the department offers an online directory at www.ncfarmfresh.com. Visitors can search by location to find Christmas trees near their home or close to where they might travel over the holidays.

Choose-and-cut directories are also available at the four state-operated farmers markets in Asheville, Charlotte, Colfax and Raleigh, as well as all of the state welcome centers. Free, printed copies of the directory are available by contacting John Hammond with the department’s Marketing Division at 919-707-3147.

The department offers the following tips to make sure your Christmas tree stays fresh and that you display the tree safely through the season:

  • If you can’t set up your tree immediately, put it in a bucket of water in a cool, shady place.
  • Cut off a half inch from the base of the tree before placing it in a stand.
  • Use a stand that will hold at least a gallon of water.
  • Check the water levels often. A tree may take up to a gallon of water in the first 24 hours, and a quart per day after that.
  • Place tree away from heat sources, heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators and sunny windows.
  • Check lights and cords for broken bulbs and frayed wiring.
  • Do not overload electric circuits.
  • Turn off lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Remove tree from your home promptly after Christmas and recycle it.

North Carolina is the nation’s second-largest producer of Christmas trees, behind Oregon.