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The Business of Christmas Trees

Tall or short, fat or thin, natural, plastic or metal. Whatever the choice, the National Christmas Tree Association says Americans bought over 40 million Christmas trees last year. Christmas trees are grown and harvested in all 50 states.

Christmas time in the city usually means buying trees already cut and waiting to be sold. But some people like to drive to tree farms. Others wait for their tree to come to them, or they order one from the pages of a catalog or even on the Internet. Some say the easiest thing of all is to buy an artificial tree with Christmas lights already on it.

The National Christmas Tree Association represents growers and sellers of most of the farm-raised Christmas trees in the United States. The group estimates that 9.5 million artificial trees were sold in 2011 compared to almost 31 million natural ones. So, people still enjoy the appearance and smell of natural trees more. The group says people paid an average of around $35 for a natural Christmas tree and twice as much for an artificial one. But artificial trees, which mostly come from China, can be re-used for years.

Most natural trees are cut up and recycled, but some people buy trees that can be planted. The association says 16 percent of people who bought natural trees last year chose them at a farm and cut the tree themselves. 84 percent bought them already cut. Most Christmas trees are now grown on farms instead of in forests. The trees take 6 to 10 years to grow. In some states, less than half the planted trees survive the weather conditions to become someone's Christmas tree.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 01Jan2013)