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Beaufort Ole Towne Rotary Club member Ralph Caricofe puts a fresh cut on a Fraser fir for Barbara McKenzie of Beaufort, who purchased the tree Wednesday from the club’s Christmas tree lot in front of Ace Hardware in Beaufort. (Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — Those seeking the perfect Christmas tree should shop early and be ready to pay a little more, according to county nonprofits selling Fraser firs this year.

“We’ve had to increase $5 to $7 per tree because of the cost of fuel and freight for transportation,” Christine Lamb, president of the Beaufort Ole Towne Rotary Club, said. 

The 325 trees arrived Nov. 22 at the club’s lot in front of Ace Hardware in Beaufort, and by Nov. 23, residents were lining up to purchase trees. Lamb said she expects them to sell out quickly.

The trees range in size from 4- to 12-foot, with costs varying from $40 for the smallest to $200 for the largest. The club is also selling natural wreaths of various sizes, ranging in price from $25 to $70, depending on size.

Mary Miller with Hannah’s Hope Christmas Trees at The Market in Cedar Point, too, said she anticipates the 160 trees they received Nov. 22 to sell out quickly.

“The last three years there’s been a shortage of trees because growers are still trying to get their fields back up and running and allow their trees to mature,” she said.

Miller added that The Market has tried to keep the cost as close to last year as possible, although the cost of freight went up.

Hannah’s Hope trees range from $60 to $100, depending on size and fullness. Trees range in height from 6 to 8 feet. The group is also selling natural wreaths, ranging from $35 to $45.

Dr. Jeffrey Owen, forestry extension specialist with N.C. State University who specializes in Christmas trees, said during a telephone interview Nov. 16 that those shopping for trees will find a great selection, but he too recommended shopping early and being prepared to dig a little deeper into their pocketbooks.

“It’s been a good growing season this year, and there’s a pretty crop of trees, but it will be a tight market,” he said. “A lot of our growers are sold out of the trees they will cut for this year. A lot of growers have slowed down to give their trees time to mature.”

He added that consumers should be ready to pay more due to inflation.

As for the trees being sold at the Beaufort Ole Towne Rotary lot, Lamb said proceeds from the sale go to help many nonprofits and programs the club supports locally. Some of those include Crystal Coast Habitat for Humanity, Loaves and Fishes in Beaufort, Broad Street Clinic, Meals on Wheels in Beaufort and the Boys and Girls Club. 

Miller said 5% of the proceeds from the sale of trees at The Market goes to Hannah’s Hope to help children with the cost of participating in extracurricular activities. 

Debbie Hoell of Beaufort was among those buying a tree Wednesday at the Beaufort Ole Towne Rotary lot.

“We come here because they are super to deal with and it supports a great cause. Plus, it’s a tradition,” she said.

Barbara McKenzie of Beaufort and her husband Jay Tervo purchased two trees from the lot on Wednesday, one for their business and one for their home.

“We know the Rotary always gets fresh trees,” she said.

Felicia Hartsough of Straits, her husband and two children were also seeking a tree at the Rotary lot.

“We want to support the Beaufort Rotary and all the good things they do in our community,” she said.

Regardless of where you look for the perfect tree, Dr. Owen said there are ways to keep it looking fresh through the yuletide season.

“Keep it watered and keep it away from direct sun and heat sources,” he said. “Make sure you get a fresh cut when you buy the tree.”

Another plus to a well-watered tree is it’s less likely to be a fire hazard in the event of an accident. Trees should not be placed near fireplaces, heaters, furnace vents or television sets.

Light cords and connections used on the tree or in other holiday decorations must be in good working order to ensure a safe and joyous holiday season. Lights should always be unplugged when leaving home or going to bed.

While Fraser firs are the most popular Christmas trees, other species to consider are Douglas firs, white pine, spruce, Virginia pine, cypress varieties and red cedars.

North Carolina is the nation’s second-largest producer of real Christmas trees, according to the N.C. Christmas Tree Association. Fraser Fir trees represent 94 percent of all species grown in North Carolina and over 26% of all Christmas trees grown in the US.

 

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

 

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