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Agriculture

Some stats on those Christmas trees you just (hopefully) recycled

Agriculture
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We’re in a new year, and the one thing we’re sure you’re excited about is the chance to make more green. For South Carolina’s largest industry, green comes from literal green, as in forests and tracts of timberland.

Timber accounts for more than $2.5 billion in annual payroll and nearly 50,000 jobs in the Palmetto State (palmetto, as in palmetto tree, ahem).

Because we just left perhaps the largest annual consumer tree-buying season, Arbor Day notwithstanding, you may know that South Carolina doesn’t really grow many Christmas trees. North Carolina, however, just a few degrees north, is the second-largest state for growing holiday firs and white pines, behind only Oregon, according to data from the National Christmas Tree Association.

Where do our trees come from?

If you bought a live tree, it likely came from the Tar Heel State, which is growing about 50 million Fraser firs at all times, according to data from N.C. State University. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which sets very detailed standards for Christmas trees, tracks the number of trees grown in every state, including South Carolina. While timber is the state’s No. 1 industry, Christmas trees appear to be just a sideline for several growers; we produce only a few thousand a year.

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