Tucker Tree Farms will be sending a Christmas tree to the governor’s mansion this year after winning the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association’s Annual Christmas Tree Competition, held in Spruce Pine Sept. 14-15.
Tucker Tree Farms will also represent North Carolina at next year’s National Christmas Tree Association and compete for the honor of presenting the White House Blue Room tree to the first family.
“It’s an honor to send a tree to the governor’s mansion this year. Someone from North Carolina will receive the honor, and we like to keep it local,” said David Tucker, the owner of Tucker Tree Farms.
The 12 foot-tall Fraser fir that will adorn the governor’s mansion will be driven by a representative from Tucker Tree Farms to Raleigh around Thanksgiving.
According to Tucker, his farm actually won in both categories (the Fraser fir category and the “other” category) at the state contest. Tucker Tree Farms won the “other” category by entering a Blue Spruce.
Tucker said his family-owned tree farm has existed since 1965 when his father, Don Tucker, began selling Christmas trees. Even though he has another full-time job, David Tucker said he feels like farming is a part of who he is, and he still enjoys it.
Tucker Tree Farms isn’t the only farm in Ashe County that has produced a good batch of trees this year.
Ken Guyton, from Sexton Christmas Tree Farms, said, “The trees are prettier than usual; they received rain when they needed it.”
“Christmas trees in Ashe County have had almost ideal weather conditions for this growing season,” said Travis Birdsell, the Extension agent for agriculture.
According to Birdsell, the growing season began early this year with an unseasonably warm winter and spring, preventing freezes that could have damaged tree growth. Also, the hot spring transitioning to a cool summer with ample rainfall provided excellent conditions for the 2012 harvesting season.
These prime conditions for growing Christmas trees are important to the economy of Ashe County, because the Christmas tree industry contributes more than $60 million annually to the county’s economy.
Ashe County tree farms also help drive the local economy by hiring workers. Christmas tree farms provide over 700 local jobs year round and over 2,000 jobs during the tree harvesting season.
This job-creating, multi-million dollar industry is now gearing up for harvest season.
“Equipment is being checked, sales are being finalized, and harvest plans are being designed and decided,” said Birdsell.
According to Birdsell, harvest season begins sometime in late October-early November and ends in December.
Birdsell said even though this is the busiest time for growers, they work hard throughout the entire year. “It takes 12 months’ worth of work, every year to produce a quality Christmas tree,” he said.
According to Birdsell, Ashe County is recognized as the largest producer of Christmas trees in the eastern United States. In fact, if Ashe County was a state, it would be the 3rd largest producer in the nation of cut trees.
This large-scale production is one reason why Ashe County has had more Christmas tree national champions than any other county in the United States (having won seven), said Birdsell.
Also, Ashe County has 12,000 acres of Christmas trees in production, amounting to approximately 20 million trees, which provide enough daily oxygen for 216,000 people, according to Birdsell.