Christmas tree season begins

Nov. 23, 2012 @ 06:12 PM

The scent of Fraser firs under the tent at Carico’s Christmas Trees on N. Main Street earlier this week heralded the arrival of the Christmas tree shopping season.
The lot was stocked with freshly cut trees from the Carico family farm in the North Carolina mountains in anticipation of the first wave of tree buyers this weekend.
Owner Lisa Carico said cold temperatures and plenty of moisture this fall yielded a good crop of thick, dark green Fraser firs. Retailers and producers like Carico say the price of Christmas trees should be roughly the same as last year.
“I went up $2 this year,” said Carico, explaining that the price she pays a trucking company to haul the trees to High Point from Sparta had gone up sharply.
Most of Carico’s trees range from 5 to 8 feet in size and cost between $27 and $47, with a few 9- and 10-foot firs priced at $100.
Larger retailers report that their Christmas tree prices are generally holding steady.
The Home Depot will feature Fraser firs ranging in size from 5 feet to 10 feet and Douglas firs from 5.5 feet to 7 feet. The price range runs from $19.97 for the smaller trees to $76 for the taller trees, which are “very similar” to last year’s prices, according to High Point Home Depot store Manager Robert Jenkins.
Prices listed at Lowe’s range from $19.98 for a 5-foot Douglas fir to $120 for a 12-foot Fraser fir.
North Carolina is the nation’s second-largest producer of Christmas trees, with more than 5 million harvested last year, accounting for $85 million in sales, said North Carolina Christmas Tree Association Executive Director Jennifer Greene.
Choose-and-cut tree farms have opened in the mountains and foothills, and this weekend is usually when tree wholesalers wrap up their sales to retail lots and other locations across the state.
“Our wholesalers have been shipping out trees for several weeks now,” Greene said. “Everybody seems to have an upbeat spirit, and I think it’s going to be a really good year.”
Greene advised that, in selecting a tree, “you want to choose one that’s fresh and not dried out,” she said. Trees that are kept in the shade and/or displayed in water are things to look for, she said.
“Another way to tell is to sort of bend the branches a little bit. They should be flexible and not snap. Same way with the needles. If you take the needle and bend it with your fingertips, it should be good and flexible – a good way to tell if the tree’s still moist and fresh,” she said.
Once you get a tree, she advised cutting about a quarter-inch off the bottom of the trunk before you put it in a water stand to enable it to take up as much water as possible. | 888-3531