There’s nothing that says Christmas cheer and frivolity quite like spreadsheets of Christmas tree data.
But Christmas trees are a big deal in Pennsylvania. We’re one of the country’s top producers. This year’s White House Christmas tree is from Pennsylvania. And pop superstar Taylor Swift grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Berks County.
Pennsylvania growers sold more than $21 million worth of Christmas trees in 2012, according to the last Census of Agriculture, which is conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Nationwide, there were more than $305 million worth of Christmas trees sold in 2012, the most recent year data is available.
Over a million Pennsylvania Christmas trees were harvested that year, which put the state fourth in the country. In each of the last two Christmas tree census counts — in 2007 and 2012 — Pennsylvania’s top county was Columbia, with more than 250,000 trees harvested.
The two centers of Christmas tree production nationally are Oregon and North Carolina. Those two states alone were responsible for 10 million of the 17 million trees harvested in 2012.
However, data is not available for every state and county. When there is only one farm that produces a given commodity, the USDA doesn’t publish it because it would identify an individual farm.
For instance, in 2007, the second largest number of trees were harvested in York County, but there’s no data for York County in 2012. The nine Pennsylvania counties for which there is no data accounted for roughly 200,000 trees that were harvested.
This year’s White House Christmas tree, according to the Associated Press, is from Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pa.
The farm, run by Chris Botek, a second-generation Christmas tree farmer, also provided the official White House tree in 2010 and 2006.
Pennsylvania had almost 35,000 acres of Christmas trees in production in 2012. Oregon led the nation with more than 66,000 acres.
This fact-based local reporting drives impact and creates change. Help power that impact.
James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” PublicSource exists to help the Pittsburgh region face its realities and create opportunities for change. When we shine a light on inequity in our region, like the “completely unacceptable” conditions in low-income housing in McKeesport, things change. When we ask questions about policymakers’ decisions, like how Allegheny County is handling COVID-19 safety for its employees, things change. When we push for transparency on issues that affect the public, like in the use of facial recognition software by Pittsburgh police, things change.
It takes a lot of time, skill and resources to produce journalism like this. Our stories are always made available for free so that they can benefit the most people, regardless of ability to pay. But as an independent, nonprofit newsroom, we count on donations from our readers to support this crucial work. Can you make a contribution of any amount (or better yet, set up a recurring monthly gift) to help ensure we can continue to report on what matters and tell stories for a better Pittsburgh?