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Christmas tree farms expecting a strong season

Agriculture
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Despite being too dry, too wet or damaged by winds, South Carolina’s Christmas tree farms have weathered the storm and are expecting another strong showing in 2016, according to a Clemson University extension agent.

Clemson senior extension agent Mark Arena said, in a news release, that trees in South Carolina have seen some damage due to the stress of the drought, “but a lot of this affects just single branches on mature trees that are easy to prune. So, overall, this year’s crop has given South Carolina’s Christmas tree industry plenty of positive momentum on the eve of the holiday season,” he said.

In 2015, fresh-cut tree sales totaled approximately 8,500 in South Carolina – an increase of 7% from 2014 – with an estimated value of about $500,000. (Photo provided)Trees in other parts of the state may have been affected by standing water or wind damage, but there are still enough trees to go around, according to the release.

The national Christmas Tree Promotion Board, in collaboration with the South Carolina Christmas Tree Association, has ramped up its advertising and social media. This year’s new slogan is “It’s Christmas. Keep it real.” The Christmas Tree Association helps buyers find farms nearest to where they live, while also providing details on varieties and care.

“We want to encourage more people to buy real trees from South Carolina farms,” Lauren Booth, president of the S.C. Christmas Tree Association, said in the release. “Though last year was a very strong year for us, we’re expecting 2016 to be even better.”

In 2015, fresh-cut tree sales totaled approximately 8,500 in South Carolina — an increase of 7% from 2014 — with an estimated value of about $500,000. South Carolina tree farmers also supplement their income by selling imported Fraser firs, the most popular Christmas tree nationwide. Fraser firs are not grown in South Carolina because they only thrive at higher altitudes with cool summer weather.

Chip Fink, who co-owns Mystic Christmas Tree Farm in Greenville with his wife, Susan, said that most of his mature trees are in good shape despite the drought. He added that buying naturally grown trees has a double bonus: It adds to Christmas spirit but is also good for the environment.

“We’re expecting another great year,” Fink said, in the release. “And keep in mind that every tree on our plantation absorbs carbon from the air and releases oxygen. This is as good a reason as any to purchase naturally grown trees every Christmas. For every tree you buy, we plant another. And the cycle continues.”

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