Friday, August 30, 2013

New York State Fair 'One Thing' Series -- Today's Feature, Christmas Trees

Grand champion tree by Michael McDonald of Painted Post, Steuben County
Yes, it's really not the time of year people are thinking about Christmas trees.

But they are a big part of the New York state agricultural economy. The state ranks 11th in the country in Christmas trees and sales total about $21 million a year.

I met up with Mike Daniels, of Skaneateles, in the Christmas tree booth on the west end of the Horticulture Building. I asked him what 'one thing' he would like to tell the public about Christmas trees:

"They have a wonderful fragrance, they're fire resistant and they're traditional," he said. "You didn't have artificial trees 100 years ago. They are also a natural product and they're renewable -- when one is cut down, it is replaced when he plant two or three more."

The Christmas tree growers booth, located across from the troopers, comes complete with a decked out Christmas tree, a dancing Santa and even some "snow." 

There are 850 Christmas tree farmers in the state growing the following species of trees: Austrian pine, balsam fir, blue spruce, Canaan fir, Colorado spruce, concolor fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, Norway spruce, Scotch pine, white pine and white spruce. 

More than 17,000 acres of Christmas trees are grown in the state and 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms. Planting and growing Christmas trees are good for the environment as they remove more than 2,000 tons of carbon from the air and release about 5,800 ton of oxygen into the air.

According to the Christmas tree farmers website, Christmas trees remove dust and pollen from the air and an acre of trees provide the daily oxygen requirements for 18 people. Two to three seedlings are planted for every tree harvested at Christmas time.

And tree growers throughout the state participate in the Trees for Troops program, in which trees are donated to send to military service people overseas and to their families on bases in the states.

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