A first-time extensive survey of Oregon's Christmas tree industry confirms what has been known for a long time - the production and sale of Oregon Christmas trees are vital to the state's agricultural economy.

"The proof is in the latest numbers. Our Christmas tree industry generates a great deal of economic activity," said Gary McAninch, manager of the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Christmas Tree and Nursery Program. Oregon Christmas trees are shipped around the country and the world, he noted.

Oregon is the nation's top producer of Christmas trees, with a value of $151 million in 2001. Last year, about 8.3 million Oregon trees were sold.

A breakout of the sales figures show that the larger plantations - those with at least 100 acres of Christmas trees - accounted for 81 percent of the value of all trees sold and 77 percent of the total number of trees sold in 2001. Oregon has 50,970 acres of Christmas trees in production.

The survey offers a first-time look at job activity generated by Oregon's Christmas tree industry. In 2001 there were 9,166 workers with wages of nearly $25 million.

As expected, the survey confirms that Oregon's Christmas tree industry is dominated by two major species: Douglas fir and Noble fir. Together, they accounted for 92 percent of all Christmas tree sales last year.

About 57 percent of the trees sold were Douglas firs and 35 percent were Noble firs, according to the survey.

Christmas tree plantings in Oregon have steadily increased each year since 1996. The total number of trees planted have nearly doubled from 5,696 trees in 1996 to 10,551 trees in 2001.

Clackamas County remains the state's top producer with $32.4 million in sales from 15,200 acres of Christmas trees. Benton County is number two, followed by Marion and Polk counties. Those four counties are responsible for 87 percent of last year's Christmas tree sales.

The number one destination where Oregon Christmas trees end up is California, responsible for 46 percent of all sales in 2001. A combination of other western states - Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Alaska, and Hawaii - is responsible for 13 percent of all sales. The Gulf States region recorded 10 percent of last year's sales. Mexico accounted for 9 percent of the sales. Oregon itself bought only 8 percent of all Christmas trees sold last year.

Oregon also ships Christmas trees to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Guam, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica.

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