National Christmas Tree Association's location may surprise you | St. Louis Public Radio

National Christmas Tree Association's location may surprise you

Dec 22, 2015

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 Rick Dungey.

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. Dungey said 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, Dungey said 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. Dungey said 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 as herrin nesting 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. Dungey said 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, but Dungey said 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