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.
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.
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.
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!