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Here's a story that's evergreen – the Christmas tree business

Statistics show that roughly half of all Americans who celebrate Christmas increasingly opt for realistic-looking – but artificial – trees. Still, the preference of many consumers for real trees supports a sizable industry. According to a report by the extension service at the University of Illinois, 32.8 million commercially grown trees with a retail value of $1.3 billion were sold in the US last year. Oregon led the way, harvesting about 6.5 million of those, but commercial growers can be found in all 50 states as well as Canada. Other facts gathered by the extension service:

Professional Christmas tree growers in the US: 21,000
Number of cut-your-own tree farms in the US: 12,000
US acreage in Christmas tree production: 446,996
Average number of trees planted professionally per acre: about 2,000
Average number of years needed to grow a tree: 7-10
Best-selling varieties: Scotch pine, Douglas fir, Noble fir, Fraser fir, Virginia pine, Balsam fir, white pine
Average sale price of a profes- sionially grown tree last year: $41.90
First retail sales lot: 1851 in New York City

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