Home Deck the halls with a Virginia Grown Christmas tree

Deck the halls with a Virginia Grown Christmas tree


christmas treesNothing says Christmas like a real, Virginia Grown Christmas tree. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reports the state’s growers are preparing an abundance of fresh, farm-grown trees for the holiday season.

Virginia’s Christmas tree growers rank among the top producers in the nation and make a positive contribution to the state’s economy. The Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association estimates there are more than 7 million Christmas trees growing in more than 500 tree farms across the Commonwealth. Approximately 1 million trees are harvested and sold each year at a wholesale value of $30-40 million.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Virginia ranks No. 7 in the country in total trees harvested, No. 8 in total acres in production and No. 9 in number of operations with tree sales (up from No. 10 last year).

To acknowledge the value of Christmas tree farming to the Commonwealth’s agriculture industry, Governor McAuliffe proclaimed December as “Virginia Christmas Tree Month” and encourages consumers to choose Virginia Grown trees, wreaths, garlands and other decorations this holiday season.

The size of Christmas tree farms in Virginia range from less than 1 acre to as large as several hundred or even 1,000 acres. They are a valuable and aesthetically pleasing addition to the land and can be planted on barren slopes and difficult spots where other crops will not grow. Virginia’s rich soil and moderate climate are ideal for growing a wide variety of Christmas evergreen trees including white pine, Scotch pine, Norway spruce, blue spruce, Douglas fir and Fraser fir. For every Christmas tree harvested, another 2-3 seedlings are planted in its place.

Fresh Virginia Grown Christmas tree farms are located across the state and in easy driving distance of consumers in every region. Freshness is an important feature of every locally grown tree; they retain their needles and stay fragrant longer than trees brought in from out of state, which may have been cut a month or more in advance. Search for Virginia Grown Christmas tree growers online at VirginiaGrown.com. Along with choose-and-cut and pre-cut trees, many farms also sell fresh-made wreaths, garlands, holiday greenery, roping, centerpieces and tree stands. Some offer special touches for a memorable family experience such as hot beverages, holiday treats, hayrides and Christmas shops.

The 2016 Virginia Grown Christmas Tree Guide is available at tourist centers and libraries across the Commonwealth or contact VDACS for a copy at [email protected].

Each year, many of the Commonwealth’s Christmas tree growers give back by participating in the Trees for Troops Program. Last year, Virginia farmers donated more than 1,200 Virginia Grown Christmas trees to military families.


Christmas tree facts

During the 2012 holiday season, more than 700 farms participated nationally in the Trees for Troops program which delivered 18,694 real Christmas trees from twenty-nine states to military families on fifty-three bases (including two bases overseas).

For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place.

It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average retail sale height (6 feet), but the average growing time in 7 years.

Real Christmas trees are an all-American product, grown in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Most artificial trees are manufactured in Korea, Taiwan, or Hong Kong.

Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and metals.

The top Christmas tree producing states are Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California, and North Carolina…and Virginia is

  • #10 in the U.S. by number of operations with Christmas tree sales
  • #7 by total trees harvested
  • #8 by total acreage

Virginia harvested 478,069 cut trees! (2012, the last USDA Census of agriculture)

The top selling Christmas trees are: balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine, and white pine.

There are about 1 million acres in production for growing Christmas trees. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.

There are about 15,000 Christmas tree growers in the U.S., and over 100,000 people employed full or part time in the industry.

There are approximately 5,000 choose-and-cut farms in the U.S.

This year over 37 million American families will celebrate the holidays with the fragrance and beauty of a real Christmas tree.

The Virginia Christmas tree industry is made up of thousands of growers. The size of any Christmas tree farm ranges from less than an acre to as large as several hundred acres, with a few growers having a thousand or more acres. It is estimated that there are over seven million Christmas trees growing in Virginia today. Every year approximately one to two million Virginia grown trees are sold with a wholesale value of 20-40 million dollars. These trees were planted by Christmas tree farmers and are replanted yearly. The Christmas tree industry may top $50 million dollars when the value of foliage greens that make wreaths and garland is added.

Most Christmas tree growers do not rely on these sales as their sole source of income. Christmas tree farmers tend to have varied backgrounds. They may have prior farming experience, but are just as likely to be a doctor, an accountant, a truck driver, a civil engineer or a nurse. It seems that there is some indefinable appeal that motivates people to become Christmas tree farmers.

Virginia Christmas tree growers are fortunate in that most species sold as Christmas trees can be grown in some region of the state thus allowing the consumer a wide variety of a fresh Virginia grown product.

Virginia grown Christmas trees can be found at choose and cut farms, retail lots and chain stores. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in cooperation with the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association issues a Christmas tree choose-and-cut guide to help the consumer locate these farms. Additional information on the location of wholesale and retail sales, species characteristics, and tree care can be found elsewhere on www.VirginiaChristmasTrees.org.

A visit to a choose and cut tree farm assures the consumer of the freshest tree possible as well as an opportunity for a memorable Christmas experience. Christmas trees purchased at retail lots and chain stores may be Virginia grown, but just as likely come from out-of-state. Retail lots displaying the Virginia Finest logo is your best choice for a Virginia grown tree.

Want to learn more? The Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom has plenty of information about Christmas Trees and Tree Farming in this issue of What’s Growing On In Virginia?



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