Did you know that Ashe County is the largest Christmas tree producing county in the United States? For anyone not familiar with the area, it may be difficult to believe that our treasured small corner of North Carolina produces the most Christmas trees in the country. All it takes is a short drive along a country road in Ashe County, to confirm this information.
Fraser firs, the most common Christmas tree, blanket the rolling mountains outside of West Jefferson and throughout the rest of Ashe County. The Fraser Fir accounts for over 90% of all Christmas trees grown in North Carolina and is overwhelmingly known as the quintessential holiday decoration across the United States. The Fraser Fir is known for its refreshing holiday aroma, rich green color, and strong branches capable of hanging heavy ornaments and lights.
Why Ashe County?
Fraser Firs are native to the southern Appalachian Mountains. Situated in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina, Ashe County is a premier location for growing Fraser Firs.
An average elevation of around 3,000 feet means cooler temperatures year-round. The area averages 51 inches of rain and 20 inches of snow per year – nourishing the trees and minimizing the amount of artificial irrigation needed to grow the perfect Christmas tree.
Ashe County is close in proximity to major highways including US 421 and Interstate 77, allowing the easy transportation of trees all over the nation. Some Christmas trees from northwestern North Carolina are even delivered to the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and other countries across the world.
Economic Impact of Ashe Christmas Trees
There are approximately 12,000 acres of agricultural land dedicated to Christmas tree production in Ashe County; this amounts to approximately 20 million trees. The Christmas tree industry is a major driver for the local economy and contributes more than $85 million every year.
The Christmas trees planted on steep slopes help to stabilize soil, protect invaluable water resources while supplying a natural habitat for wildlife. Since most trees are harvested between 6-15 feet, views of nearby mountain peaks are left unobstructed. When one tree is harvested, there are typically one or two trees that get planted in its place. And while any tree – real or artificial – can foster a holiday spirit, real Christmas trees are 100% recyclable and biodegradable.
Where to Buy an Ashe County Christmas Tree
There are plenty of places throughout Ashe County to pick up the perfect Christmas tree, handcrafted wreaths, garlands, and other natural holiday decorations. Choose and cut farms offer a natural and authentic experience for families to pick a unique tree from the ground.
Family farms have both choose and cut, retail lots, or wholesale buying options. These family farms employ over 700 people year-round with an increased 2,000 jobs added over the harvest season.
There are many Christmas trees in Ashe County grown on family farms; however, the major part is on large tracts of land bought or leased by the wholesale growers
If weather or other reasons are keeping you from traveling to the mountains, don’t fret -- there are many retail lots across the state to pick up an Ashe County Fraser Fir to add holiday cheer to your home.
AsheCountyChristmasTrees.com has a complete list of Choose and Cut farms in Ashe County and a list of retail lots for an Ashe County Christmas tree near you.
Environmental Impact of Ashe Christmas Trees
Evergreens of all types produce an especially high level of oxygen throughout their lifetime.
Christmas trees in Ashe County supply enough oxygen every day for 216,000 people.
Since the year 2000, Christmas trees have seen a reduction in active pesticide usage per acre due to responsible management.
Other Facts About Ashe County Christmas Trees
Ashe County has sent more Christmas trees (7) to the White House than any other county in the nation
Depending on rainfall and other factors, the average 8-foot Christmas tree is 10-12 years old
A Fraser Fir seedling only grows to a height of 1-inch in its first year of life
In Ashe County, due to steep terrain, many Christmas trees are planted by hand.
The image used in this blog was furnished by Carolina Fraser Fir Company.