Ag in the Classroom: Christmas tree farms in the US

There are almost 15,000 Christmas tree farms in the United States. Every year, there are approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees sold. Real trees are a renewable resource. For every tree that is harvested, one to three seedlings are planted. The average growing time of a tree is seven years. The top Christmas tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, and Michigan.

Top selling trees are Fraser fir which is sturdy and ships well, Balsam fir which smells wonderful, and Douglas fir has a typical Christmas tree shape. Scotch pine and blue spruce are popular and have very sharp needles.

Real Christmas trees can be recycled after the holidays. Trees can be used for soil erosion control, sunk into ponds to provide fish refuge, or chipped into mulch.

There are several types of trees that can be grown for other purposes. There are trees that are grown for lumber and furniture. There are trees that provide you with nutritious treats like pecans. Oranges, apples, peaches, and many other fruits come from trees. Cinnamon and rubber are tree products as well.  Maple syrup is another delicious treat from trees. Many farmers are now practicing an agricultural technique called Agroforestry. Agroforestry is combining growing trees with other agriculture commodities. For example, planting a hay crop between rows of walnut trees.

Trees are valuable for the environment. They are a vital part of the oxygen and carbon dioxide cycle on earth. Trees provide habitat for birds, animals, shade for humans, and protect the soil against erosion.

Students got to “escape” during this lesson. Patterned after the popular escape rooms – puzzles, codes and questions about trees were answered to unlock boxes and retrieve the prizes. Younger students made crafts featuring Christmas trees.

Douglas County Ag in the Classroom is sponsored by Douglas County Farm Bureau, Douglas County Ag Center, and Illinois Ag in the Classroom.

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