Christmas Tree Growers Cut Carbon Levels

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While doing research for this article, I opened the website for the Hudler Carolina Tree Farm in Grassy Creek, NC. Mr. Hudler is know far and wide for his attempts to promote the use of less pesticides and has reduced their need by 50%, grow and produce healthier trees while protecting the environment, and contributing to many needy organizations. He was active in the Little League community providing trees for fundraisers and other activities.

To read about his senseless killing and that of his son and another devoted worker, struck me with a deep sadness. I felt a need more than ever to honor this family and share just how much he has improved every aspect of the industry. As you read my report, please keep in mind that the Hudler family vastly changed this industry for the good of you and the posterity of future generations. Without his guidance and service, our land, air, and waters would have posed a threat to life on every level. I am so grateful to this family for their continued efforts to remain a quality farm and carry on for their dad, Ron Hudler.

Here is a link to their farm if you feel so inclined to send them a thank you note or perhaps an email. Please visit their site and learn more about this family and see the album of their beautiful farm.   http://www.hudlertrees.com/ Click on the In Memory of Ron and Fred to see the story about the deaths in that family. It was a robbery and the person responsible has been caught and charged. You can read the story here- http://www.mountaintimes.com/mtweekly/2008/0124/breakingnews.php3 Mr. Hudler is a man who has helped you and your children and you didn’t even know it. Bless his family.

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North Carolina has 1,600 growers producing an estimated 50 million Fraser fir Christmas trees growing on over 25,000 acres.  Fraser Fir trees represent over 90% of all species grown in North Carolina. The North Carolina Christmas Tree Industry is ranked second in the nation in number of trees harvested.
http://ncchristmastrees.com/ — second only to Oregon.

fraserfirs

Did you know that North Carolina is the second largest supplier of Christmas trees? I did! I visit our mountain areas several times a year. They are only an hour from my home. It is a beautiful sight to see thousands of Christmas trees growing up the side of the mountains. If you were to get out of your car, you would be able to smell them too. The Fraser Fir has that distinct smell that we associate with the holidays this time of year.

It takes many years to grow a mature tree. Seeds are taken from the cone and planted in the soil. They are covered with straw and a shade cloth to protect it from frost and winds. After three years of growth they are transplanted to another location for their second stage of maturity.

This second stage is called a line out area. They will grow there for two years until they are mature enough to grow in the open hillside with the other trees. A line out area consist of many small trees so each one doesn’t have to compete for sunlight. With them all growing at the same height and rate, they don’t have to suffer from a taller tree robbing them of sunlight.

For the next 7 to 10 years, the tree farmers will shape and trim the trees to achieve the look preferred by consumers. At 3 years, the tree tops are cut off. This allows the tree to grow productively outward instead of its fast upward habit. At this point, there is an ongoing effort to shape the tree in the desired form.

Growers in NC are very conscious of erosion, soil depletion, and insect control. There is genetic testing being done behind the scenes as an effort to grow a tree that is more resistant to pest. NC growers would like to be an organic operation practicing those pest control measures that will ensure a future toward safer methods to control toxins for the environment.

North Carolina is a leader in the area of clean air and water. NC considers it their goal to be independent of fossil fuels and responsible for our air and water quality. Our state and universities are to be commended on their efforts to pass laws and ordinances, invest in renewable fuel sources, and educate our citizens on a toxic free NC. The efforts are paying off for us and you.

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Scouting for pest is a preferred measure to sparying for pest. http://ipm.ncsu.edu/Scouting_Fraser_Fir/bwa.html

One area that stands out would be our Christmas tree growers. Their constant efforts to use less pesticides and control erosion affects our quality of life. Our streams are getting healthy and recovering from the years of ignorant practices from all farmers and industries. If you were to see a Christmas tree farm in NC, you would certainly notice how all of nature around them is thriving. More trees are planted each year than are harvested. Trees are not harvested from the natural forest but are cut from tree farms just as you would harvest wheat or corn. For every tree cut, at least two are planted in its place. The trees are home to many birds and wildlife who benefit from this industry.

It takes anywhere from 10 to 15 years to produce a tree that is desirable for retail. For every acre of planted trees, it supports enough oxygen for 18 people. Each planted acre of trees can absorb about 11,000 lbs of carbon dioxide a year. Fraser Firs are a negative carbon dioxide tree meaning they will emit less in their decomposing than is consumed in giving them life. www.mcclimanschristmas.com/html/our_trees.html

Mr. Hudler and his family provide a much needed source of income for migrant workers and employ a great deal of them on a full time basis. They are extremely good to their hard working force of people providing them with food during the peak cutting time. Rumor has it that Mr. Hudler was keenly involved with their personal needs on occasion. The Hudler family continues on in the memory of the three men whose lives will not be forgotten by me and now by you. Thank you Hudler family!

Sources:

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/xmas/index.html

http://ncchristmastrees.com/links.htm

http://www.christmastree.org/faqs.cfm

http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/hort_sci/faculty/hinesley.html

http://www.hudlertrees.com/

http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2008/aug/15/defendant-in-tree-farm-deaths-faces-new-counts/news-regional/

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you all! I have been gone all day and it was up hill both ways. Really and truly. You’ll find out more in a few days.
    Anna, I hope you had a good day and share with us what you learned real soon. Hurry up! What are you waiting on….the cows have come home.

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  2. That was great, Anna. I do worry about the search for THE perfect tree, since monocultures always create problems. But gosh, a monoculture that means fewer pesticides is certainly the way to go.
    –Kate
    That’s all I hear on the pbs channel these days. They are all the talk about being free of fossil fuels and going green. Our state buys about $90 billion worth of fuel each year. We have developed the ability to use any cellulose food and produce a cleaner and more efficient renewable fuel source. This means a lot of jobs and money being pumped back in to our state. Now if the car dealers would get on board…………….if they don’t come on and join us…then we are leaving them looking at burnt rubber on the road. We got the peddle to the medal.

    We rear more kids who know their way around a car engine than there are seeds in a dandelion. Redneck racing is king here and every child boy or girl comes out of the womb rooting for their favorite driver. This has produced a very steady stream of kids who know their way around a motor. They may not be able to graduate from 8th grade..but they make a lot of money under the hood a vehicle. We will just convert what we have and let you come here and do it too!

    Our streams almost gave up supporting any life at all not long ago. Down East, we have a ton of pig farms. A pig farm produces a good amount of toxic run-off when the rains come.

    It was a battle at first for the nc gov and pig farmers to work it out..but they did and now the laws apply to all farmers and even builders too. They have standards that protect the quality of storm water run-off. And what is the product of this hard work you ask…..crayfish are returning. That means every animal above it on the richter scale:0 is back in business. Things are starting to run smoothly with us all skipping down the road together.

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  3. Cindy says:

    Anna ~ reading about that tragic loss just breaks my heart. I hope the family can find peace. I had just read somewhere else how evergreens reduce more more carbon dioxide than deciduous trees. A good thing to know and I hope to be planting some next year.

    The family needs us to support them and get the word out to support the industry so all their efforts are not in vain. Thank you and they are reading this post. I don’t know them personally, but they did send me a response to my email today and they said job well done. It was kind of them to respond since this is their 24hr a day most hard working season.

    It would make sense that a tree with all that green would need lots of sugar to make the energy needed to keep it that way. You can’t make sugar for food if you don’t have carbon dioxide. Good for us huh?

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  4. mothernaturesgarden says:

    What a neat idea to display a Christmas tree on the porch.
    Donna
    Donna, what is a pollcat? I have heard that all my life and I have no clue what it looks like or if it is even a cat. I’m always saying somthing that my evil brothers repeated. Look at the post above yours. I just bet her a pollcat that she had dried up roots. Would you bet a pollcat that they won’t live or are you going to hold out for new growth? We want to know what you think?

    You can have a Christmas tree on your porch too if you buy NC;) A Tenn tree is too airish. Now define that airish.

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  5. Great article about our NC tree industry and environment. My husband has a degree in forestry and he’s always telling folks to grow the trees to reduce carbon levels.

    Thanks,
    Cameron
    Yes, and he is a bluegrass musician too. I guess I’ll be headed out this weekend if the creek don’t rise…and learn a step or two. I wonder if my legs will move that fast again.

    I have heard that you Easterners;) have got even more strict requirements than us Westerners or Piedmonters. What do you think? But then ya’ll get all the money. How did you end up with such influential representatives? You guys are just growing out of your britches and I have not seen too much a housing crisis here. I sold my home…it took about 2 months longer than average and I did come down a bit on the price…but it sold.

    I hope a lot of those people moving to NC are gardeners!

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  6. Phillip says:

    So glad to discover your blog. Thanks for visiting mine! What a sad story but it is comforting to hear about your state’s efforts for the environment. I love North Carolina, you live in a truly beautiful state.
    I tried to visit your site tonight but the server is not allowing it so I will try later. I do love NC and as Gail says…I’m the spokes/speaking person….well, Cameron is too and I could go on. But I’m claiming it the most. Please come back often. I like company.

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  7. Gail says:

    Anna,

    Good morning…our best ever live Christmas tree came from NC. An enterprising student and his dad took orders, drove to a tree farm and brought them back here. They lasted forever and the house smelled wonderful. You are most definitely the NC spokeswoman, they are lucky to have you! Thanks for the links…Gail
    I am so proud to hear that. I got an email response today from the Hudler family and they said job well done. I was so happy they had seen this and the support you all have given. They are watching! So let’s not let them down. You need another smelly good NC tree!

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  8. nancybond says:

    A very interesting article, Anna. There are several Christmas tree farms here in Nova Scotia — our (mostly) temperate climate seems to be a perfect mix of warmth and cold for their growth. A couple of the farms are very large, and your article has made me think about how green their production is, no pun intended. I may do some snooping today! Thanks for the impetus!

    Go find out Nancy and tell them that little ole NC is getting ahead of them. Competition is what drives the industry for us. Green is a go right now and the greener the better. I heard a report on the news this AM before I left on my secret mission. Our Christmas tree farmers are having a grand season.

    Let me tell you…I had trees all around me going down the highway. There is one really long stretch of steep grade to travel. Trucks have to gear down and hug the outside lane. There are truck run-off sand areas if one should have their brakes give out–which happens. So these trucks today were loaded down and I mean stacked to the sky. It was such a beautiful sight–but not when you smell the brakes giving out. Since I was raised around these parts…it was drilled in to me that when coming down a steep grade, you must do two things when in a car surrounded by trucks.

    Keep one of your eyes on the rearview mirror for runaway trucks and keep out of the their lane. And two..don’t ride your brakes on the way down. I am a good mountain driver. I know when to tap and when to let her rip. I do a lot of let her rip. I was skeedattling down the mountain today as I could smell and see the brakes on those heavy laden trucks giving out fast. Those truck brakes actually smoke and it’s not unusual to see a truck pulled over just letting things cool off. One double trailer was pushing it a bit too far. I went around him like he was sitting still. I wanted to get home to garden another day.

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  9. layanee says:

    Great information on growing live trees. They are a crop and buying a live tree supports a local farmer. Good job! I, too, love to walk through the tree growing area. I need to plant the back field with trees! Seven to ten years is not so long for a good tree!
    The Christmas tree growers trim theirs quite often and pinch off the tops. Even so..they get a 6ish foot tree in no time. Aren’t they pretty? You know alot about gardening so I’m sure it will look grand and perfect for your soil. They can grow in soil that no other plant can.

    I saw a bunch being delivered today. They were in front of me and behind me on the highway. I heard a report this morning that it’s going to be a good year for our growers.

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  10. fairegarden says:

    Hi Anna, thanks for alerting us to this sad and happy story. North Carolina is ahead of Tennessee for sure in the awareness of the environment and how industy and ecology go hand in hand, rather than be adversaries. I love the feel and smell of a Frasier Fur in the house, then cut the branches to protect the hydrangeas from the freeze thaw cycle of late winter. All good.

    Frances
    I like the idea of using the limbs to protect the hydrangeas. very clever.

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  11. Phillip says:

    Fascinating article Anna. Real Xmas tree use has definately declined over here, mainly pretty artificial ones in the homes I know.
    I am proud of our state. We are paying more in taxes to see that everything gets cleaned up but it’s so good to see it going to good use. I love living here and our Christmas tree and tourist industry is booming. You can vacation in our mountains for less than anywhere I know. Just rent a little cabin and forget your worries for about a week.

    I am actually seeing a decline in artificial trees. Seems like the new thing to have a real one. I have a real one on my front porch.

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