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Sales pick up at local tree lots

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Lenette Britt hops excitedly as she is shown a Fraser fir Christmas tree by Sherry Peele, behind tree, on Wednesday at Sharpe Tree Farm.

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BY JENNY WHITE
Staff Writer

Friday, November 30, 2018

Many Twin Counties residents will be searching for the perfect Christmas Tree in the coming weeks.

Longtime Christmas tree farmer and local seller Ricky Sharpe of Nash County said he expects to sell more than 700 trees this season at his lot at 1288 E. N.C. 97 in Rocky Mount. He’s been selling Christmas trees for 30 years.

He said he’s seen brisk business since his lot opened the week of Thanksgiving.

Sharpe grows his trees in Yancey and Mitchell counties in western North Carolina. He cuts them and transports them to his lot.

Lot manager Sherry Peele said Sharpe is bringing in freshly cut Fraser fir trees from the Sharpe tree farms weekly. She expects this weekend and next week to be their busiest week. While it is easier to bring trees down from the mountains in one big trip, Peele said offering an inventory of fresh trees every week makes their trees last longer and dry out less.

Peele said her most popular size tree is a 6-foot tree. Prices for 6-foot trees start at about $50. A best of the best 6-foot tree can top out at about $90.

“This is your fat, full and pretty-from-every-angle tree — a showstopper,” Peel said.

One of Sharpe’s biggest trees he’s cut this season was for the town of Sharpsburg that came in at about 20 feet.

Peele also offers fresh wreath-making at the lot. Prices start at $30 and she can make a wreath any size using a variety of greenery and other natural elements she has on hand. She recommends people call to place an order at 919-437-6546, and she can typically have it ready in a couple days.

At the Rocky Mount Evening Optimist Club tree lot in Englewood Square Shopping Center, Optimist Club member Dennis Speck said the group is hoping to sell 150 trees. Prices range from about $60 to $120.

“Our trees are special because every penny we make from selling them goes to support our programs and community projects to support children,” Speck said.

The Optimist Club lot is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and has about eight club members who volunteer their time at the lot.

Speck said the Optimist Club has been selling trees in Rocky Mount since 1961.

“They used to bring them down from the mountains on trains. Club members would unload them off the train cars and we’d sell about 2,000 a year in those days,” Speck said.

The Evening Optimist Club lot also offers wreaths.

A third Christmas tree lot on Zebulon Road, Jody Bass Christmas Trees, is also selling trees from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

Speck and Peele both said that demand for North Carolina trees is high this year.

“Some tree farmers are experiencing a slight dip in tree production because in 2008, they planted fewer trees because of the recession. We didn’t cut back and have a high yield,” Peele said.

It takes about 10 years for a Fraser fir tree to reach maturity, he added.

Peele advises people to make sure to put a fresh cut on the bottom of the tree and put plenty of water in the tree holder when it is first put up.

“The tree will really drink a lot of water once you put that fresh cut on. So in the first few days, make sure you check the water and keep it filled,” Peele said. “It will go down fast.”

After that, she suggests checking it at least once a day. She does not recommend putting any additives in the water.

“For a lot of people, a fresh Christmas tree is just the best decoration you can have for the holidays,” Peele said. “We love being able to provide that for people.”

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