There may still be Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge, but area Christmas tree lot owners said business is off to a booming start.
The general consensus seems to be the states Fraser firs are the most-sought variety and this years crop is one of the best in recent memory, said Norman Simpson of the Darrell Simpson Family Christmas Tree Lot at 938 S. Kings Drive in Charlotte.
Last year, we had an insect problem, but this year is bouncing back. The quality is better, probably the best in the past four years, Simpson said. Because of the economy, prices havent gone up in three to four years, but the product is better.
Between their Kings Drive location and a smaller lot on Sharon Road near SouthPark, Simpson said the family business sells about 8,000 trees a season, most of which are grown in Ashe County.
So whats the key to finding the perfect tree? Simpson said its all about freshness. Ive seen them being cut in October, he said, noting many big-box stores start carrying trees before Halloween is over. But whatever lot youre on, Simpson recommended shaking the tree to make sure the branches bounce freely and are wiggling, just like they do in the mountains.
Over at Horse Creek Tree Farms lot on the corner of Camden and West Park Avenue in Charlotte, Wayne James said pulling on a trees needles will speak to its freshness. If you pull a stem and have a handful of needles, you dont want that tree, he said with a laugh.
James said his son, Kevin, has been bringing the Fraser firs he grows in Lansing to Charlotte for seven years, to the corner lot and the Atherton Market location on South Boulevard.
Wayne James said their most popular size has been the 6- to 7-foot trees, noting they fit best in homes with standard 8-foot ceilings. If youve got a small living area, youre going to want a more narrow tree, he said.
At the Snowflake Village lot at 11432 S. Tryon St. in Charlotte, Brian Wyant said he and partner Kyle Boyd have only been open since Thanksgiving but have had their best opening so far. Boyd said their opening-day business was triple what it was when they opened four years ago.Wyant estimated they sell about 1,000 N.C.-grown trees per season and attributes their trees freshness to being put into water stands on the lot.
Boyd recommended people keep their trees away from heating vets or radiators, which can dry a tree out.
The workers at the three lots agree that plain water truly is best for trees, despite rumors that home remedies and additives like Sprite, sugar or aspirin will prevent needle loss and extend their life. They grow with rain water; theres nothing in (that), Wyant said.
Simpson said most lots will cut up to an inch off the base of any tree about to go home to help remove any sap blockage that could have formed.
We tell people if theyre going to wait a day or two to put their tree up, put the tree in a five-gallon bucket of water out back, or even in a kitchen pot of water and lean it up against the house, he said.
Any misconceptions to dispel? Simpson said the biggest one is that water stands arent necessary.
Ive seen the difference they make, he said. The stands will last years if you take care of them.
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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