Last updated: February 09. 2014 1:00PM - 1154 Views
By - jpetty@civitasmedia.com



Despite a shorter selling season, the warm weekend following Thanksgiving helped make this tree season a successful one for Ashe County tree farmers. Christmas trees are an approximately $70 million annual industry for the county.
Despite a shorter selling season, the warm weekend following Thanksgiving helped make this tree season a successful one for Ashe County tree farmers. Christmas trees are an approximately $70 million annual industry for the county.
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According to the N.C. Agriculture Extension, the Christmas Tree selling season for Ashe County was a success.


“The season was up overall from recent years,” said Travis Birdsell, agriculture agent covering Christmas trees in Ashe County. “We are coming back from the recession in terms of volume, not pricing.”


Nationally, sales were up, and there was a higher demand for Fraser furs, which are grown in the region. Overall, tree sales were up by 7 percent.


For the county, Birdsell said Christmas trees are a $70 million per year industry in gross sales. In the state, Ashe sold the most trees.


Part of that had to do with local businesses teaming up with tree farms to promote the county. While Ashe is known regionally for selling trees, the promotions helped increase traffic for local businesses.


“I don’t know if that played a role in getting people up here,” Birdsell said. “It is pretty well known and for a lot of people it has become a tradition.”


Birdsell said the weekend after Thanksgiving, in 2013, had the highest volume of sales in a single day, for not just tree growers, but area retailers.


“It is beneficial to see the businesses and ‘choose and cuts’ working together, he said. “That can only increase dollars spent within the county.”


Ashe County Christmas trees are shipped out throughout the East Coast and Midwest regions in the nation. The weather had an effect on sales in some parts of the nation, but not all.


“The southeast did pretty well (in sales),” Birdsell said. “(The weather) did have an impact in the northeast.”


Birdsell said trees in the region are not sold in the northwestern part of the nation, because tree farmers there have control of those markets, and area growers cannot compete. Overall, the Pacific Northwest has the largest Christmas tree production in the nation.


While some weekends in the shorter holiday season were prone to bad weather, the weekend after Thanksgiving provided a boost to the overall sales.


“There is a strong connection between the weather and sale of Christmas trees,” Birdsell said. “The first weekend (following Thanksgiving), the tremendous amount of volume compensated for the other weekends during the season. It averaged out.”


Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.

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