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National Christmas Tree Association's location may surprise you

The United States Department of Agriculture's last census on Christmas trees was in 2012, when it found 17 million were cut in the U.S.
The United States Department of Agriculture's last census on Christmas trees was in 2012, when it found 17 million were cut in the U.S.

The top Christmas tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan. So how is it that the National Tree Christmas Association is based in Chesterfield?

"There’s lots of office space," joked executive director RickDungey.

The trade organization represents about 600 active member farms, 29 state and regional associations, and more than 3,800 affiliated businesses. While Missouri ranks 26th in Christmas tree production, Dungey said their office's location doesn't much matter when handling their members’ business.

"We manage their database, do their banking, publish their magazines and provide all the consumer information on the website," he said.

Christmas trees are a big industry.Dungeysaid in recent years about 25 to 30 million homes in the U.S. choose to have a fresh tree during the holiday. That’s been pretty steady for nearly a decade.

In recent years,Dungeysaid consumers have begun to ask for more variety in their Christmas trees.

"They’re wanting to see more types of trees, and sizes of trees, and shapes of trees and varieties of trees," he said.

He said that can be a challenge in an industry that isn’t exactly fast moving. Trees typically take six to 10 years before they can be harvested.

There are also more options available for recycling than just creating mulch.Dungeysaid communities are getting more creative in how they use the plant material.

"They use them to prevent beach erosion, they use them to protect fresh water marshes, they use them asherrinnesting areas in Great Lakes states, and to create salmon spawning areas," he said.

Of course, the National Christmas Tree Association has a few tips on how to take care of your tree.Dungeysaid the first thing to do is make a thin fresh cut at the bottom of the trunk.

"That opens up the plant tissue so it can absorb water," he said, "and then never let that water level go below the cut surface of the trunk once it’s in the stand."

It’s normal for the tree to take in a lot of moisture in the first few days and then slow down later, butDungeysaid it’s important to top off the water stand each day.

While he has a fresh Christmas tree at home, the executive director admitted that this year the National Christmas Tree Association office is treeless. 

"We have had them occasionally," he said. "It just depends how many people are here and who has time to do decorating and that sort of thing."

Follow Maria Altman on Twitter: @radioaltman

Copyright 2015 St. Louis Public Radio

Altman came to St. Louis Public Radio from Dallas where she hosted All Things Considered and reported north Texas news at KERA. Altman also spent several years in Illinois: first in Chicago where she interned at WBEZ; then as the Morning Edition host at WSIU in Carbondale; and finally in Springfield, where she earned her graduate degree and covered the legislature for Illinois Public Radio.
Maria Altman
Maria is a reporter at St. Louis Public Radio, specializing in business and economic issues. Previously, she was a newscaster during All Things Considered and has been with the station since 2004. Maria's stories have been featured nationally on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on Marketplace.
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