Early in the 19th century, German settlers introduced the Christmas tree tradition in America.
In 1851, Christmas trees harvested at random from forests were sold for the first time in this country.
W.V. McGalliard started the first Christmas tree farm in 1901. McGalliard’s business grew from 25,000 Norway Spruce trees he planted at his New Jersey farm.
In the 1930’s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s interest in Christmas tree farming prompted him to start a Christmas tree farm at his Hyde Park, New York estate.
Today, nearly 350 million Christmas trees are being grown on Christmas tree farms in the United States. Twenty to 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. each year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA).
“There are about 350,000 acres in production for growing Christmas Trees in the U.S.; much of it preserving green space. There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas Trees in the U.S., and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the industry,” according to the NCTA.
Oregon produces more Christmas trees than any other state, averaging about 5.2 million trees per year on 42,000 total acres.
North Carolina is the second largest Christmas tree producer, harvesting 3.5 million trees per year.
Michigan ranks third in the number of Christmas trees produced, harvesting about 3 million fresh Christmas trees per year. Michigan produces and sells more Christmas tree varieties than any other state.
Pennsylvania is the fourth largest Christmas tree producing state, harvesting 2.3 million trees per year.
Wisconsin ranks fifth in the nation in Christmas tree production. 1,387 Wisconsin Christmas tree farms harvest 1.8 million trees per year.
Washington produces 1.5 million Christmas trees per year on 18,000 acres.
In 1966, “the National Christmas Tree Association began its time-honored tradition of having the Grand Champion grower present a Christmas tree to the First Lady for display in the Blue Room of the White House,” according to the National Christmas Tree Association. “That year, Howard Pierce of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, presented a tree to President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson.”
Many families prefer live Christmas trees to artificial trees.
“When a tree is cut down, another can be grown in its place,” says Steve Long of the Nature Conservancy in Fortune.com. “And when you are done with the tree in your home, it can be turned into mulch, so the tree has a life that goes on.”
If you’ve been pining for a live Christmas tree this Christmas season, it’s best to start shopping for one now. Christmas is only a couple of weeks away!