Watauga County Christmas Tree Association

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Watauga County Christmas Tree Association - Boone North Carolina

Watauga County
Christmas Tree Association
Boone, North Carolina

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Facts About Christmas Trees

| Christmas Tree Facts | How We Grow | Sustainability | Christmas Tree Care | FAQs | Trees For Troops |

Christmas Tree Facts - Watauga County North Carolina
Christmas Tree Facts – Watauga County North Carolina

Christmas Tree Facts

• North Carolina ranks second in the USA in live Christmas tree production.

• Fraser Firs are native to the Southern Appalachian region. They are extremely well adapted to the environmental conditions of Watauga County, North Carolina.

• Christmas trees are grown as a renewable crop, and therefore add more living trees to our planet. Unlike Christmas trees of the past, modern Christmas tree farms replant up to 3 tree seedlings for every tree that is harvested from their farm. Modern day Christmas tree farms do not cut down trees in the forest and sell them to customers.

• By planting Christmas tree seedlings every year, farmers are helping to decrease the carbon footprint of their farms. Living Christmas trees will absorb and retain carbon from the atmosphere and utilize it for photosynthesis, producing sugars and carbohydrates for the trees to live off of.

Christmas Tree Facts - Watauga County North Carolina
Christmas Tree Facts – Watauga County North Carolina
• Christmas tree farms provide shelter, food, and habitat for a diverse array of wildlife, including bears, deer, groundhogs, squirrels, turkey, quail, songbirds, insects, and microorganisms in the soil.

• Real Christmas trees, as opposed to Fake Plastic Christmas trees, are 100% biodegradable and can be recycled in many ways: chipped up for mulch, sunken in ponds to create fish habitat, placed in the backyard for use as a birdfeeder or using trees to stabilize sand dunes on coastal areas.

• Fake Plastic Christmas trees are made overseas in countries such as China, from petroleum based products and non-recyclable PVC plastics. Some artificial trees are packaged with a pair of gloves, to protect customers from directly touching the Lead that artificial trees contain.

For more information about Christmas tree farming in Watauga County, North Carolina, please contact Susanne at 828-264-3061 or Contact Us.

More Christmas Tree Facts


How We Grow Christmas Trees in Watauga County NC
How We Grow Christmas Trees in Watauga County NC

How We Grow Christmas Trees

In the spring, Christmas tree farmers begin planting or “setting” transplants into the actual tree fields. These transplants are 5 years of age, having been grown in a seedbed for 3 years, and then growing an additional 2 years in a line-out nursery bed, where the transplants are spread out for healthy branch growth and the development of strong root systems. Trees usually grow for at least 5–6 years in the field, longer for growing larger sized trees.

For the first few years in the field, farmers must ensure that weeds are managed so they do not out-compete the young trees. Many farmers will sow a groundcover, such as Dutch White Clover, to help suppress undesirable weeds. Groundcovers keep young tree roots cool in the summer, provide habitat for beneficial insects, and most importantly, provide nitrogen, an essential plant nutrient, to the growing trees. This reduces the amount of additional fertilizers the farmers must apply to the fields, keeping production costs lower and preventing excess fertilizers from affecting the surrounding environment.

As trees grow each year, Christmas tree farmers have several important tasks: scouting for insects that may damage the trees, shearing the trees to achieve an attractive shape, and maintaining the nutrient levels in the surrounding soil and plant tissue for optimal growth. All of these tasks are completed within the elements of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Wholesale Christmas Trees from Watauga County NC
Wholesale Christmas Trees from Watauga County NC
When Christmas trees are harvested for the wholesale market, many trees are cut and baled in the field, Once baled, trees are taken to loading yards, where the trees are congregated into “tree cages” where they are protected from sun and wind. The trees are then loaded onto tractor-trailers, or smaller trucks and hauled throughout the state and all parts of the country.

When Christmas trees are harvested for Choose and Cut, trees are harvested during a 3–4 week period, beginning in mid-November. Customers visit a Choose and Cut Farm, choose a Christmas tree to buy, and then transport it back to their home.


Sustainability in Christmas Tree Farming in Watauga County NC
Sustainability in Christmas Tree Farming


Watauga County North Carolina Christmas tree farmers have taken important steps to preserve the quality of the environment both on and surrounding tree farms. They integrate farm best management practices onto their farms such as, leaving buffer strips between fields and water sources, and planting farm borders for the benefit of indigenous wildlife. Chistmas tree farmers also work with the NC Cooperative Extension Service, the local Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, to ensure their farms are productive and sustainably managed. Christmas tree farmers implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM), in several ways:

1. Scouting trees regularly for both beneficial and pest insects. IPM requires that farmers regularly check their fields for insect populations. Beneficial insects, such as hover flies and predatory mites, as well as problematic.

2. Insects like the Balsam Woolly Adelgid and spider mites, are assessed to determine if tree damage is likely to occur. Through this practice, farmers are able to save money by reducing pesticide treatments, preserving the beneficial insect populations, and cutting back on labor expenses.

3. Establishing groundcovers on tree farms is also an element of IPM. Groundcovers such as Dutch white clover, birdsfoot trefoil, chickweed, and wild mustard all provide excellent habitat for beneficial insects. The more beneficial insects in the field, the lower the population of pest insects. A diversity of groundcovers supports the diversity of insects, songbirds, and microorganisms in the soil that together create a unique ecological system.

Christmas Tree Farming in Watauga County NC
Christmas Tree Farming in Watauga County NC
4. Since most Christmas tree farms are on steep mountainous land, groundcovers also play an important role in reducing soil loss and retaining fertilizers that are applied to tree root systems.

5. IPM decision-making involves choosing the most-appropriate pesticide product when insect pest levels are such that a chemical treatment is warranted. Choosing the best pesticide product with the least impact on non-target insect species is a large part of practicing IPM. Some pests, including the Balsam Woolly Adelgid, are fatal to Fraser Firs, and require the use of pesticides. However many growers also utilize products such as insecticidal soap and horticultural oils, both of which are considered nontoxic materials.

Additional Information on Integrated Pest Management can be found at North Carolina State University.

Additional Information on Christmas Trees and the Environment can be found at North Carolina State University.


Christmas Tree Care
Christmas Tree Care

Christmas Tree Care

Fraser Fir Christmas trees are living organisms perfectly adapted to the extreme weather conditions found here in the High Country. In the field, the soil, sun, wind and rain dictate the growth and condition of the Christmas trees. Once they are harvested, growers, retailers, and consumers have a few basic steps to follow in order to keep Fraser Fir Christmas trees living up to their namesake of the “Perfect Christmas Tree.”

NC Cooperative Extension and NC State University specialists developed standard guidelines for caring for Christmas trees on retail lots. To learn more, visit the North Carolina State University.

Recycling Trees
Remember too that one of the great benefits of a REAL Christmas tree is that they can be recycled -- unlike artificial trees that end up in a landfill. There are community recycling programs all across the country. In the Town of Boone, Christmas trees are picked up and recycled into wood chips. For more information contact the Town of Boone Public Works Department.

Christmas trees can also be sunk into ponds and creeks to provide fish habitat, utilized on the coast to help prevent dune erosion and rebuild coastal wetlands, or simply hauled into the perimeter of the yard to provide wildlife habitat for songbirds, insects, and small mammals. Because a REAL Christmas tree is a living organism, it too can be returned to the earth where it will slowly decompose into important nutrients for the soil and surrounding plants.


Choose and Cut Christmas Trees in Watauga County NC
Choose and Cut Christmas Trees Watauga County NC


Where is Watauga County?
Watauga County is in the northwest corner of the state of North Carolina.

Map and Directions to Watauga County

What is Choose and Cut?
View our Choose and Cut page for more information.

Which is better for the environment: A real Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree?
Visit our Real vs Fake page for more information.

How can I contact a grower who has Christmas trees for sale?
Contact information for members of the Watauga County Christmas Tree Association can be found on our Members List and on Choose and Cut Farms. It is best to contact individual Christmas tree farms directly; many can be contacted by phone and E-Mail, or through individual Christmas tree farm websites.

WCCTA Members List

Christmas Tree Farm Tours in Watauga County NC
Christmas Tree Farm Tours in Watauga County NC
Can I tour a Christmas tree farm?
Throughout the year Christmas tree farms are continually buzzing with activity. Some Christmas tree growers simply have too much farm work to complete and are not able to conduct farm tours. However in many cases, with enough advance notice, many Choose and Cut Farms will host tour groups or school children. If you are interested in a tour, please Contact Us with your estimated tour date, how many people you anticipate and any other important details.

Where can I get more information about Christmas tree production?

North Carolina University Portal on Christmas Trees

Where can I find out more about the North Carolina Christmas Tree Industry?

North Carolina Christmas Tree Assocation

Choose and Cut Christmas Trees in Watauga County NC
Choose and Cut Christmas Trees Watauga County NC
I’d like to visit Watauga County during Choose and Cut. Where do you recommend staying?

Select Local Lodging Packages with Select Watauga County Choose and Cut Association Members.

Explore Boone Area is an excellent resource for planning a trip to the North Carolina High Country. The Watauga County Christmas Tree Association also partners with the Boone Chamber of Commerce, the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and High Country Host. Both provide excellent services to help you locate the best possible lodging, shopping and entertainment experiences here Watauga County, “The Heart of the North Carolina High Country”.


Trees For Troops
Trees For Troops

Trees For Troops

Trees for Troops, a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, is a nationwide opportunity to promote real trees while supporting military families. With donations of REAL Christmas trees and many generous volunteers, armed forces members and military families can celebrate the spirit of Christmas all across the world.

Watauga Christmas tree growers contribute to this program and encourage your support as well.

Trees for Troops


Contact Information

Watauga County Christmas Tree Association
971 West King Street, Boone, NC 28607
Susanne: 828-264-3061

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