Air Date: Week of December 13, 1996
Facts about... Christmas tree farming.
NUNLEY: Think you have to plan early to prepare for the holidays? Few of us need to plan as far ahead as Christmas tree growers. The average pine tree needs 6 to 8 years to grow before it's ready to be decorated. And Christmas tree farming isn't just a matter of throwing some seedlings in the ground and watering them from time to time. During spring and summer, growers must prune trees to give them that distinctive shape. Shearing also makes trees denser, and corrects defects and open spaces that most consumers don't like. Tree growers also fend off insects and diseases which can kill trees or damage their foliage and branches, making them about as popular as a skinny turkey at Thanksgiving. Only about 50 to 60% of planted Scotch pines ever reach market. Firs and spruces have a better survival rate. The National Christmas Tree Association says that Americans buy 34 million Christmas trees each year, enough to cover -- yes -- the state of Rhode Island. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.
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