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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Facts

Christmas Trees

Chirstmas Trees

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  • Most Christmas trees are grown on tree farms. They are considered an agricultural product. For every Christmas tree harvested, three seedlings are planted in its place.
  • There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas trees in the US and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the industry.
  • Until the 1930s, most Christmas trees grew wild in the forest or in abandoned fields. Early tree farming took place mostly on poor and marginal soils where some conifers could still thrive. Today almost all Christmas trees are cultivated as a specialty crop on farms suited for their production.
  • In the US there about 1 million acres dedicated to tree farming. Each acre provides enough oxygen for 18 people.
  • Tree farms reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and help counter-balance global warming.
  • Real trees are easily recycled. Many communties offer free curbside pick up in the weeks following Christmas and turn the trees into mulch.
  • Every state in the US grows Christmas trees.
  • The first recorded reference to the Christmas tree dates back to the 16th Century.
  • As Christmas trees became popular in the US, some individuals began a campaign opposing the use of evergreens for this purpose, declaring that if the cutting of Christmas trees continued, our forests would soon be depleted. President Theodore Roosevelt - known for his campaign for the conservation of natural resources - banned the use of such trees for White House festivities. Shortly afterward he discovered that two of his sons had smuggled a tree into the mansion and set it up in their room. The boys appealed to their father's good friend, Gifford Pinchot, "America's first professional forester." Pinchot convinced the president that if young evergreens were properly cut, it was helpful rather than harmful.
  • In 1882, Thomas Edison's laboratory assistants introduced the first electrically-lit Christmas tree. It had 80 bulbs and cost a small fortune.
  • On a well-managed Christmas tree farm, 90 percent of the land is occupied by vigorously growing tree crops at all times. With an average tree production cycle of ten years, counted from the time a seedling is planted, this ensures the farmer a regular annual crop ready for harvest.
  • Scotch pine and Virginia pine are the two most common species grown for Christmas trees in Oklahoma.
  • Christmas trees grown and purchased in Oklahoma for use in Oklahoma stay fresh longer.
  • Thirty-four to 36 million Christmas trees are produced in the US each year, and 95 percent are shipped or sold directly from Christmas tree farms.
  • It takes an average seven years to grow a Christmas tree to the standard retail sale height of six feet.
  • Their basic production characteristics make Christmas tree beneficial to the environment, to people and to animals. A broad network of roots holds the soil, and a continuous cover of grass between rows prevents surface erosion by water and wind.
  • As a long term crop, trees allow a natural build-up of bird and animal populations.
  • Like all plants, conifers growing for eventual harvest as Christmas trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow and produce oxygen as a byproduct. One acre of Christmas trees produces enough exygen for 18 people.
  • Discarded Christmas trees left in the yard provide welcome shelter for chickadees, nuthatches and other small birds. Redecorate the trees with treats for the birds - strings of popcorn, cranberries, suet balls stuffed with sunflower seeds, peanuts and chunks of coconut, apples, balls of peanut butter mixed with oatmeal flakes and pieces of stale cakes and cookies. Don't forget to take off the tinsel. It can make the birds sick.
  • Christmas trees are biodegradable, which means they will break down and become part of the soil again. The branches and needles make great mulch in home gardens, especially for plants that like acid soil. The nutrients contained in an old tree might one day end up as part of a new Christmas tree in the future.
  • Since 1917, the Province of Nova Scotia has presented the Prudential Center tree to the people of Boston in gratitude for the relief supplies received from the citizens of Boston after a ship exploded in 1917 following a collision in the Halifax, Nova Scotia Harbor. Part of the city was leveled killing and injuring thousands.
  • America has celebrated Christmas around New York City's Rockefeller Center Tree since 1931, when Rockefeller Center was still a muddy construction site. It was a Christmas darkened by the Great Depression, and workmen proudly placed their tree in the dirt that meant jobs. That first tree celebrated the indomitable human spirit as much as Christmas, and the workmen received their precious Christmas Eve paychecks around its sprightly green branches. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree tradition had more formal beginnings in 1933, when a tree was adorned with 700 lights and placed in front of the 8-month-old RCA Building.
  • In 1979, the national Christmas tree was not lighted except for the top ornament, in honor of the American hostages held in Iran.