The timeless tradition of the family gathering around a real, fresh-cut Christmas tree is alive and well, according to South Carolina growers.
S.C. Christmas Tree Association secretary Steve Penland said sales of real Christmas trees were up 10 to 12 percent last year, after rising by 15 percent in 2011. Penland said if early sales calls are any indication, he expecting another increase in sales this season.
Christmas Tree Association President Chip Fink, who owns a tree farm near Greenville, said more people are making the choosing of a Christmas tree a family affair.
“We’re finding an increasing number of people who want the experience, the memories of coming out and cutting their own tree. They’ll bring their families out, the little kids will get under the tree with the saw and that makes for great photo opportunities.”
The association has 48 members who have Christmas tree farms from the Piedmont to the coast.
Fink says tending to a Christmas tree farm can be a lonely task for most of the year, but adds it’s well worth it once the Christmas season comes.
“That’s the enjoyable time of the year,” Fink laughed. “The rest of the year I’m out there by myself sweating in the heat, but when the families come out here and the kids yelling and running around racing from tree to tree throughout the fields, that is most enjoyable.”
Fink said Christmas tree growers around the state offer a variety of trees that are both beautiful and fragrant.
“The most popular tree grown in South Carolina, by far, is the Leyland Cypress,” he said. “Your best aroma is the Fraser Fir and your Eastern Red Cedars. Unfortunately the Leyland Cypress does not give off any aroma, which in a way is a good thing for people who have allergies because it doesn’t’ effect their allergies.”
Fink said unfortunately the popular Fraser Fir will not grow in South Carolina, it grows up in the mountains and has to be pre-cut and shipped in from North Carolina.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, South Carolina has nearly 2,000 acres devoted to Christmas tree production and harvests approximately 30,000 trees per year.