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‘Tis the Season for Cut Christmas Trees

Christmas trees

A Christmas tree grove in Oregon.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

With the holiday season upon us, many people across the United States are out and about shopping for the perfect Christmas tree to deck their halls with holiday cheer. Sales of cut Christmas trees remain a large part of the U.S. horticulture industry as Americans continue to uphold the holiday tradition of fresh, cut trees – from the White House to state capitals across the United States, the smell of pine is vibrant this time of year.

According to the 2009 Census of Horticultural Specialties, released yesterday by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, cut Christmas tree sales totaled $250 million last year, with nearly 13 million trees cut and sold. The most prevalent varieties of Christmas trees grown and sold were Fraser, Douglas and Noble firs, which accounted for nearly 76 percent of all U.S. Christmas tree sales.

More than 4.2 million Fraser firs were sold in the U.S. last year, with sales topping $89 million. Sales of Douglas firs totaled $45.8 million, with 3.1 million trees sold in 2009. Noble firs were the third most popular variety among growers with 2.7 million trees sold, totaling $54.2 million in sales.

In 2009 Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan lead the nation in number of trees sold, as well as value of sales. With nearly 9 million trees cut and sold, growers in these three states accounted for nearly 61 percent of all cut Christmas tree sales in the United States.

In addition to cut Christmas tree information, the 2009 Census of Horticultural Specialties provides the most comprehensive and detailed data on U.S. floriculture, nursery and specialty crop production. This is the first time in more than a decade that USDA has published such a complete overview of the U.S. horticulture industry.

Full results of the 2009 Census of Horticultural Specialties are available online.

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