RALEIGH, N.C. -- Some Christmas tree growers have already opened for business in North Carolina, and agriculture officials say consumers will be picking from one of the best crops in recent years.
Growers traditionally start selling Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving, but because the holiday falls later this year, many growers were already open.
Burl Greene, who owns Greene Tree Farm northwest of downtown Boone, said he opened his lot Nov. 16, one week earlier than normal. He said the move was driven by demand.
"We got so many calls, we just decided to be open," Greene said.
Greene said he had 50 customers on his first weekend of business, and he expects to sell up to 200 trees on Friday alone. He said he was concerned at first that the economy might affect him.
"But there's a good percentage that come and they don't seem to care," he said. "They get trees and ornaments and stuff. They're not going to cut back on Christmas."
N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said the abundance of rain this year helped tree growers. Department marketing specialist Bill Glenn said people shopping for a fresh North Carolina tree won't have any trouble finding one regardless of where they live.
To make the search for a 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 during the holidays.
Types and tips for finding the right Christmas tree:
(Info gathered from National Christmas Tree Association)
These soft needles are dark green - blue green in color and are approximately 1 - 1 ½ in. in length. The douglas fir needles radiate in all directions from the branch. When crushed, these needles have a sweet fragrance. They are one of the top major Christmas tree species in the U.S.
Colorado Blue Spruce:
Often used for stuffing pine-pillows, these sharp needles are 1 - 1 ½ in. in length. This species is bluish-gray in color and has a bad odor when needles are crushed. This Christmas Tree has good symmetrical form and has an attractive blue foliage. It also has good needle retention.
These needles turn upward, exposing the lower branches. Known for its beauty, the noble fir has a long keep ability, and its stiff branches make it a good tree for heavy ornaments, as well as providing excellent greenery for wreaths and garlan.
The branches of the eastern redcedar are compact and form a pyramidal crown, except in older trees. The leaves are usually arranged in opposing pairs along the branchlets. They are a dark shiny green color. The bark is reddish brown with a tendency to peel in long fibrous strips.