Wildfires putting future of NC Christmas trees at risk

A Christmas tree lot in Greenville (WNCT)
A Christmas tree lot in Greenville (WNCT)

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As wildfires continue to burn in the western part of North Carolina, uncertainties are mounting.

CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM THE FIRES
CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM THE FIRES

Emergency crews are focusing their attention on reducing flames, and saving lives and homes. But for Christmas tree farms in the western part of the state, there’s another fight entirely.

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“We have one that’s within 60 miles of us, and one that’s about 30 miles from where we grow our Christmas trees,” said Larry Cuthbertson of Mountain Boy Trees. “If a wildfire comes through our trees, our field, it would probably be 12 or 15 years before we’d be producing trees again.”

Cuthbertson has been bringing his trees from Avery County to Greenville for more than four decades. But he said with fires reaching closer to his farm than ever before, that tradition could be in danger.

“To get a seedling approximately six inches high takes about six years,” he said. “From there to get a tree of this size, which is 10-footer, takes about another nine to 10, and maybe even 12 years.”

Cutherbertson said it has been a very dry year, starting last winter. Due to the weather, the trees this year are also drier than normal.

If you plan to purchase a tree, make sure you know it has been in water the entire time before bringing it home. One way to tell is to fell the outer branches and bend them. If they break, you know the tree is too dry.

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