Choosing the Perfect Tree for the Holiday

by Mayah Collins

Published December 7, 2011 for The Daily Southerner


TARBORO — The thought of scurrying around the Christmas tree to open gifts with friends and family on a snowy, Christmas day may sound wondrous to most people. Ideally, finding the perfect tree to decorate and flood with treasures may create priceless memories for years to come.

“We’ve been here almost 100 years and we have suffered through this last recession along with everybody else,” said Joe Pitt, owner of Marrow-Pitt Ace Home Center. “All thanks goes to the people of Tarboro who have supported us and stood by our side.”

Pitt is a local retailer in the town of Tarboro who sells Fraser Fir trees for the Christmas season. Pitt says that three years ago, 20 trees were thrown away because not many people were purchasing them. Even though business has not always been booming, the number of trees in stock is decreasing more quickly this year than ever before. This is a good thing, according to Pitt.

One week before Thanksgiving, the trees were in stock and ready to enter the homes of many. By the first week of December, Pitt says that out of the 320 Fraser Firs ordered, there are only eight trees left.

“It’s been a very good year,” said Pitt. “We have sold more this year than we did last year. We’ve built up a reputation for our Christmas trees over the last 30 years. Our trees are not necessarily the cheapest around, but they are the prettiest.”

When asked what makes his trees so appealing, he said, “The whole thing with Christmas trees is moisture content, when it was cut, and the shape of the tree.”

Pitt continued by saying, “‘Three Oaks Nursery’ out of Newland, NC is the company that we work with. It’s a medium-to-small sized Christmas tree farm, so that when we send our truck up there, we know for a fact that they will be individually picked out, and the prettiest trees.”

Bruce Peaden of All About Flowers is Secretary/Treasurer of the Optimist Club of Tarboro, an organization that also sells Christmas trees.

Optimist members, including Peaden, help raise funds for the youth of Edgecombe County every year through various projects, including selling Christmas trees. The different youth groups that benefit from scholarships, donations and more include The Boy Scouts of the Tarboro Area.

Young volunteers this year include David McIntyre, 14, First Class, and Cole McIntyre, 16, Life. These two young men are with Troop 96, sponsored by Saint James United Methodist of Tarboro.

“We would like for everyone to come out and support the youth, so that we can raise more money for scholarships,” said Peaden.

Steve Troxler, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner said, “Potentially, in the mountains where the vast majority of Christmas trees in North Carolina are grown, the weather has been a little more cooperative. It looks like the harvest for Christmas trees is going to be pretty good.”

This may be excellent news for potential buyers. The largest percentage of trees that are grown in the mountains of North Carolina are the Fraser Firs. Carolina Sapphire, Leland Cypress, Blue Ice Arizona Cypress, Red Cedar, are also grown in the state and used as Christmas trees.

“There are a lot of different types of trees out there”, explained Troxler. “Depending on what your own interests are, you should be able to find a fresh North Carolina tree to suit you.”

Troxler continued, “In North Carolina, we’re blessed with a sizable number of farms where you can actually go and choose your Christmas tree. They’ll cut it for you fresh and you can load it up and take it home. You’d want to make sure that you’re looking at a tree that’s healthy, doesn’t have brown spots, or needles that fall into your hand when you run your hand against it.”

When selecting the perfect Christmas tree, Troxler’s advice is to look for a tree that is the right size and shape for the location you intend to place it.  Also, avoid choosing trees with a lot of big gaps exposing the branches. According to him, a tree with plenty of moisture is key to having it stay in your house through the holidays.

North Carolina Christmas trees rank second behind Oregon in terms of the production, and the number of cash receipts that farmers receive from their trees.

Troxler says, “North Carolina trees have been selected in the past years for the White House. Also, they are in demand in other states. We even experimented with shipping Christmas trees to Central America. North Carolina is well known as a Christmas tree producer and we’re very pleased to have that reputation. I think we take great pride in producing a very good quality tree.”

There are many advantages to having a real tree as opposed to an artificial one. Real Christmas trees are a renewable resource. Once you use them, they can be recycled. Christmas trees can be used for mulch or in lakes as wildlife or fish habitat.

If someone gets tired of an artificial tree, the only place that it goes is the landfill instead of through recycling programs.

“These trees are a North Carolina product,” said Troxler. “They are grown here in the state. We have 1,000 or more Christmas tree growers in the state, so when you’re buying a North Carolina Christmas tree, you’re helping to support the North Carolina economy, and provide jobs in North Carolina. In this economic climate, that’s extremely important.”   – See more at: