Nothing beats a real Christmas tree, from the crisp evergreen scent to the process of choosing the perfect Tannenbaum to don with glistening ornaments come December. Each year in the United States, about 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees are sold, and there are almost 350 million Christmas trees currently growing on farms across the country.
The tradition of chopping down and purchasing an authentic Christmas tree from a local farm makes for an unforgettable annual family outing, but also benefits the environment. While artificial trees may be made of non-biodegradable plastics and could contain harmful chemicals, real Christmas trees are a renewable resource and can even be recycled. What’s more, for every real Christmas tree sold, one to three more seedlings are planted in the spring.
Christmas tree farming is also a lucrative business and creates more than 100,000 full-time or part-time jobs. The nation’s 15,000 Christmas tree farms not only fill an important economic need, but also preserve miles upon miles of sacred green space and wildlife.
Stacker compiled data from the most recent Federal Census of Agriculture of 2012 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and ranked each state by the total number of trees cut. Wyoming did not produce any Christmas trees in 2012 while New Mexico and Nevada did not report enough information, so they are not included in the list.
Read on to find out which states grow the most trees, and which four states produce more than a million.
Total trees cut: 24
Total farms: 4
Total acres in production: 10
Last year, the governor’s mansion in Alaska was home to a Sitka spruce tree from the Tongass National Forest in Ketchikan, Alaska. Both the Tongass National Forest and the city and borough of Juneau allow people to select and cut down their own Christmas trees during the holiday season.
Total trees cut: 300
Total farms: 6
Total acres in production: 15
Arizona residents with a coveted Christmas tree tag are eligible to harvest their own Christmas trees, but the process to get a tag is lengthy. If you wish to purchase a tag, you must visit a designated forest office, each of which has a limited amount of tags to give out.
Total trees cut: 735
Total farms: 10
Total acres in production: Data withheld to avoid disclosing figures for individual farms
The number of Christmas tree growers in North Dakota has been declining, but state residents still enjoy the time-old tradition of chopping down the perfect tree with family. Though the state experienced a drought last year, Christmas tree production generally wasn’t affected.
Total trees cut: 2,007
Total farms: 20
Total acres in production: 52
Although Hawaii may not be the typical winter wonderland that comes to mind, Hawaiians still relish the tradition of having fresh Christmas trees. However, the islands only have a handful of Christmas tree farms, and many trees get shipped to the state from the mainland.
Total trees cut: 2,525
Total farms: 26
Total acres in production: 75
People with a permit in Utah can cut their own Christmas trees, so long as they are subalpine fir trees and measure 20 feet or shorter. The permit is issued by the U.S. Forest Service and is good right until Christmas Day.
Total trees cut: 2,620
Total farms: 9
Total acres in production: 52
Ninety Christmas trees are the centerpiece of one of South Dakota’s most-loved Christmas traditions. At "Christmas at the Capitol” in Pierre, South Dakota, visitors can observe the dozens of spectacularly decorated trees that have been dolled up by nonprofits, businesses, and communities.
Total trees cut: 5,806
Total farms: 29
Total acres in production: 227
In the late 1970s, the Arkansas Christmas Tree Growers Association was born, and today, it operates an annual meeting and workshop. The association also purchases tags, seedlings, and caps for its members. Though its website is dormant for most of the year, it pops up every year as the autumn season rolls in.
Total trees cut: 7,627
Total farms: 31
Total acres in production: 318
The Agriculture Department has warned people in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia that an invasive insect species could be hiding in Christmas trees this year and could lay eggs if brought home. The spotted lantern flies are native to China, but Christmas tree farmers are reportedly keeping a watchful eye out for the pests.
Total trees cut: 7,902
Total farms: 105
Total acres in production: 3,413
Golden Gate Canyon State Park near Denver is offering residents the opportunity to chop down their own Christmas trees this year. Those interested must purchase a permit, and can choose between several tree varieties, including Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, and Rocky Mountain juniper trees.
Total trees cut: 7,987
Total farms: 120
Total acres in production: 588
Last year, Christmas tree farms felt the pressure from Kentucky families—one farm even reported selling out of its 1,000 trees in just three days. The day after Thanksgiving typically proves to be a busy one for most Christmas tree farmers in the state, so if you’re set on a Kentucky-bred pine, make sure to tag your pick early.
Total trees cut: 8,760
Total farms: 39
Total acres in production: Data withheld to avoid disclosing figures for individual farms
The Oklahoma Forestry Services urges local residents to purchase a fresh Oklahoma-bred tree to support the state’s agricultural industries and forge a connection with rural Oklahoma. The most commonly grown Christmas tree in Oklahoma is the Virginia pine, which takes four to five years to grow into an average-sized Christmas tree.
Total trees cut: 9,028
Total farms: 55
Total acres in production: 1,150
A Christmas tree from Montana’s Kootenai National Forest was chosen to be last year’s Capitol Christmas Tree, which stands yearly on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The species of the tree was required to be representative of its home state and reach a staggering height of between 60 and 85 feet.
Total trees cut: 10,811
Total farms: 60
Total acres in production: 494
Four species of trees make up most of the Christmas trees sold at Louisiana farms: the Leyland cypress, Arizona cypress, Virginia pine, and Eastern red cedar. The Leyland cypress is the most popular tree in the Bayou State, and it is known for its long life span after it is cut.
Total trees cut: 11,350
Total farms: 76
Total acres in production: 545
Kansas may experience a shortage of Christmas trees for the next four to five years, stemming from the 2008 recession when farmers didn’t plant as many following the economic downturn. The Fraser firs, one of the most popular types of Christmas trees, could be especially difficult to track down.
Total trees cut: 15,962
Total farms: 68
Total acres in production: 549
Christmas trees are a $6 million business in Rhode Island and a significant part of the state’s agricultural industry. The most common tree varieties in Rhode Island are the balsam fir, Colorado blue spruce, the white fir, and the Douglas fir.
Total trees cut: 15,997
Total farms: 66
Total acres in production: 749
Mississippi reached its peak Christmas tree production in 1985, with 450 farms selling 330,000 trees, and production has increased slightly since 1993 in the state. The Leyland cypress is one of the most popular varieties of Christmas trees in Mississippi, while the Virginia pine, which is popular in other states, has proven to be difficult to grow and maintain.
Total trees cut: 16,214
Total farms: 114
Total acres in production: 946
Christmas tree farms in Florida grow red cedar, Virginia pine, spruce pine, and Leyland cypress trees for the holiday season. The state reports it takes up to six years to grow a properly shaped tree that reaches between 6 feet to 8 feet.
Total trees cut: 16,355
Total farms: 67
Total acres in production: 680
The Leyland cypress is the most popular Christmas tree variety in Alabama, but it requires year-round work. Farmers must trim the trees two to three times each year to maintain the classic cone-shape associated with Christmas trees.
Total trees cut: 22,513
Total farms: 73
Total acres in production: 642
Nebraska’s many Christmas tree farms offer species that include the Scotch pine, Austrian pine, white pine, Colorado blue spruce, and Douglas fir. Locally grown trees support the local economy as well as the local environment and can even be recycled come New Year’s.
Total trees cut: 27,077
Total farms: 161
Total acres in production: 1,370
Iowan families can visit one of about 100 choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms in Iowa to find the perfect centerpiece for their homes. The best-selling tree varieties in the state are the Scotch pine and the white pine.
Total trees cut: 27,732
Total farms: 88
Total acres in production: 759
The Boise National Forest in Idaho sells as many as 5,000 permits yearly for Idahoans to chop their own Christmas tree, with approximately 1,000 of those permits going to people living in Idaho City. Some even suggest making a day out of the venture, with a bonfire and picnic packed with hot cocoa or s’mores.
Total trees cut: 32,810
Total farms: 98
Total acres in production: 1,324
The Missouri Department of Conservation suggests after the holiday season ends, families can plant a live Missouri evergreen in their yard with just a little forethought and preparation. Before the ground freezes, dig a hole to plant the tree. Then simply plant the tree, and make sure to water it and cover it with mulch.
Total trees cut: 35,381
Total farms: 131
Total acres in production: 1,513
Popular Christmas tree varieties in South Carolina include the Carolina sapphire, the blue ice, the Leyland and Murray cypress, the Eastern red cedar, and the Deodar cedar. The South Carolina Christmas Tree Association also supports the Trees for Troops program, which provides Christmas trees to United States military personnel.
Total trees cut: 38,645
Total farms: 152
Total acres in production: 2,289
Because Texas experiences hot and dry summers, and has a limited soil variety, only a few types of Christmas trees thrive within the state. Texans can choose from a Virginia pine—the most common Christmas tree variety in the south—an Afghan pine, Leyland cypress, or Carolina sapphire.
Total trees cut: 49,867
Total farms: 211
Total acres in production: 2,363
For most of West Virginia’s history, fresh Christmas trees came from Maine or Canada, but after World War II, Christmas tree farming moved southward and became a profitable business in West Virginia. The most popular tree varieties are the Scotch pine and the white pine, but farmers also grow more expensive varieties, including the Norway and blue spruces, and Douglas firs.
Total trees cut: 50,112
Total farms: 145
Total acres in production: 1,488
Though Fraser firs are some of the most popular Christmas trees in Georgia, most of them sold in Georgia actually come from North Carolina. Georgia’s hot summers and mild winters make growing the Fraser firs challenging, and they can become infected with a root fungus.
Total trees cut: 52,188
Total farms: 471
Total acres in production: 2,770
Massachusetts-bred Christmas trees include the balsam, concolor, Fraser, Douglas, and Noble fir, as well as the Scotch and white pine. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection also recycles Christmas trees after the holiday season in more than 200 cities and towns in the state.
Total trees cut: 55,926
Total farms: 173
Total acres in production: 2,188
Christmas tree varieties grown and sold in Maryland include the Scotch pine, the white pine, blue spruce, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, and Canaan fir. The Maryland Christmas Tree Association promotes the "real Christmas tree industry” and has more than 75 members.
Total trees cut: 65,937
Total farms: 271
Total acres in production: 2,818
In 1913, the tradition of an official Chicago Christmas tree was started when Mayor Carter H. Harrison lit the city’s first tree in Grant Park. Although Illinois has an abundance of Christmas tree farms, the artificial Christmas tree was first manufactured in Chicago in 1958.
Total trees cut: 68,471
Total farms: 809
Total acres in production: 4,611
Reportedly, only one Christmas tree farmer in New Jersey plants trees from seeds. The rest are planted as seedlings, bare-root plants, or plugs because the trees don’t reproduce until they reach maturity at around 20 years old. Popular varieties in New Jersey include the Scotch pine and Douglas fir as well as the balsam and concolor firs.
Total trees cut: 89,252
Total farms: 202
Total acres in production: 2,505
Indiana families can choose between a Scotch pine, Douglas fir, White pine, Canaan fir, or Fraser fir for their Christmas trees. In addition to trees, many Indiana Christmas tree farms also offer fresh wreaths, garland, and tree accessories.
Total trees cut: 93,874
Total farms: 146
Total acres in production: 2,097
The most common varieties of Christmas trees in Tennessee are the Eastern white pine, the Fraser fir, the Leyland cypress, Norway spruce, Scotch pine, and Arizona cypress. The Tennessee Christmas Tree Growers Association was founded in 1971 and helped the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry establish Christmas tree seed orchards.
Total trees cut: 109,045
Total farms: 385
Total acres in production: 13,805
The climate in California isn’t particularly hospitable to farming Christmas trees, so about 45% of Christmas trees harvested in the Pacific northwest end up in California. However, the silvertip tree does grow in California, and it is sourced from the Sierra Nevada mountains. The silvertip is considered the perfect shape for a Christmas tree because of its sturdy shape.
Total trees cut: 130,527
Total farms: 301
Total acres in production: 6,935
Minnesota Christmas tree farmers sell about 500,000 Christmas trees each year. The most popular tree varieties in the state are the balsam fir, Fraser fir, and Scotch pine. However, the Norway pine, white pine, and Colorado spruce are also common.
Total trees cut: 131,876
Total farms: 248
Total acres in production: 3,243
Most Christmas tree farms in New Hampshire are amily-owned and operated. Visitors can choose to pick out and chop down their own tree at one of the state’s many farms, or they can choose from a pre-cut tree.
Total trees cut: 134,504
Total farms: 288
Total acres in production: 3,607
Popular Christmas tree varieties in New England include the Scotch pine, white pine, white spruce, blue spruce, balsam fir, and Douglas fir. All these trees are conifers, which are trees that produce cones and have needles instead of leaves.
Total trees cut: 151,327
Total farms: 607
Total acres in production: 7,173
Ohio families can choose between several species for their Christmas tree: the Austrian pine, Scotch pine, eastern white pine, red pine, southwestern white pine, the Norway spruce, or the Serbian spruce. However, the Scotch pine is the most popular in Ohio, thanks to its strong needle retention and firm branches.
Total trees cut: 159,091
Total farms: 620
Total acres in production: 5,389
Connecticut only grows one type of Christmas tree native to the state—the white pine. In all, however, at least a dozen varieties of conifers can be grown in Connecticut. The Scotch pine used to be grown in the state, but it became too vulnerable to insects and diseases.
Total trees cut: 195,833
Total farms: 387
Total acres in production: 5,694
Most Maine Christmas trees are Canadian hemlocks, concolor firs, Austrian pines, blue spruces, or white spruces. The white spruce is the most-commonly sold spruce in the area.
Total trees cut: 274,444
Total farms: 1,185
Total acres in production: 18,623
In New York, it takes seven to 12 years to grow a healthy 7-foot Christmas tree. The most common long-needled tree in the state is the Scots pine, while the most common short-needled tree in New York is the Douglas fir.
Total trees cut: 478,069
Total farms: 594
Total acres in production: 10,000
The white pine is the most widely planted Christmas tree variety in Virginia, due to its adaptability and excellent needle retention. Despite its name, the Virginia pine is a relative new species to the state and performs better in the Deep South.
Total trees cut: 587,047
Total farms: 637
Total acres in production: 8,327
Many rural landowners in southwest Washington benefit from farming Christmas trees, thanks to the long growing season and mild winters that contribute to the production of fir trees in particular. Furthermore, Washington’s cool fall harvesting season and high humidity ensures the longevity of Christmas trees after they are cut.
Total trees cut: 611,387
Total farms: 868
Total acres in production: 23,651
Last year’s White House Christmas tree came straight from the state of Wisconsin, and it was grown by the owners of Silent Night Evergreens in Endeavor, Wisconsin, who won the 2017 National Christmas Tree Contest. In 2016, the winning Christmas tree also came from Wisconsin.
Total trees cut: 1,028,888
Total farms: 1,360
Total acres in production: 31,577
Pennsylvania harvests more than 1 million Christmas trees each holiday season. If you were to combine all the acres the state devotes to growing Christmas trees, it would cover more than 49 square miles.
Total trees cut: 1,739,538
Total farms: 1,077
Total acres in production: 37,908
The most popular Christmas trees available in Michigan are the Scotch pine, white pine, blue spruce, black hills spruce, balsam fir, concolor fir, Douglas fir, and Fraser fir. Beginning this year, Amazon is expected to start selling and delivering Michigan Christmas trees to families across the country.
Total trees cut: 4,288,563
Total farms: 1,370
Total acres in production: 40,352
The Fraser fir comprises over 99.4% of all Christmas tree varieties grown in North Carolina, and the North Carolina Fraser fir is shipped annually to every state in the United States as well as the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and Japan. North Carolina is a Christmas tree-producing giant, growing more than 20% of Christmas trees in the country.
Total trees cut: 6,446,506
Total farms: 1,517
Total acres in production: 53,605
Oregon’s title as the state that produces the most Christmas trees isn’t even a close race—it outpaces North Carolina, the #2 state, by more than 2 million trees. Ninety-two percent of Oregonian Christmas trees are shipped outside of the state, and in 2015, Christmas trees brought in $84.5 million of estimated revenue.