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Farmers in North Carolina mountains are well into the annual Christmas tree harvest

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BAKERSVILLE, North Carolina — Christmas trees grown in North Carolina are already well on their way to stores and tree stands across the country.

North Carolina ranks second in the nation behind Oregon in Christmas tree production, with trees grown mostly in the state's mountains providing about 4 million trees worth about $1 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In the mountains of Mitchell County, Rodney Buchanan's family tree farm starts preparing for the holiday in March and begins cutting trees in mid-November. He estimates his Buck's Tree Farm will provide 50,000 Fraser firs to Boy Scout and church tree lots and other small operations.

"My dad saw that tobacco wasn't going to be around forever, so we tried some Christmas trees in the mid-'80s," Buchanan told the Asheville Citizen-Times (http://avlne.ws/1ygb0tH ).

It takes about seven years to grow the perfect tree.

Most of North Carolina's 1,370 tree farms are in the state's high country. Ashe and Alleghany counties have the most farms.

Buchanan and his crew will keep cutting down trees through mid-December. In January, he will talk to the people he sells the trees to and take orders for next year.

"We'll do some repairs, and relax for a couple of weeks. Maybe go down to the beach for fishing," Buchanan said.

It can be exhausting work, but it also isn't hard for Buchanan to remember the benefits.

"You're growing a product that kids will get up on Christmas morning and find their toys under that tree," Buchanan said. "That makes the whole year of work worth it right there."


Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com

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