GRAYSON COUNTY, Va. - By this time next week just as you finish your Thanksgiving dinner, you'll start seeing this year's Christmas tree crop hitting the market.
The region's Christmas tree farmers are scrambling to get their crop to market. As we found out, this season's early snowfall has put them behind, but they're hard at work shipping trees non-stop.
Tens of thousands of Christmas trees are wrapped and headed on their way for the season's centerpiece. It's been a good year, but getting this years crop to market has been a little difficult high up in the mountains.
"We had 12 to 14 inches of snow here and we were just dead in our tracks. We couldn't move. We just have to burn more midnight oil whenever we get slowed up for whatever reason, the snow, rain," Grayson County Christmas tree farmer Rodney Richardson says.
Richardson cut 10,000d trees from his farm this year and despite weather conditions, there's something else happening this year. "We've got an early season, Thanksgiving is early. Most of the retail outlets are wanting their trees earlier," says Jackie Davis, the Mount Rogers Christmas Tree Grower Association president.
So they began cutting this year's crop in the first weeks of November; despite the setbacks, the crop is looking good. "Trees look really good, and one thing about this cold, snowy weather that just keeps them more fresh. So there's a blessing in that all the snow we had," Richardson said.
And freshness is what it's all about. The trees have a ways to go to get to their markets. "Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, Ohio," the farmer adds.
Just like any farmer the cost for getting their crop to those markets keeps rising, but not the price. "Really the price of trees are the same as they've been in the retail outlets for a number of years. They've really not escalated at all. So that's making it tough for the farmer. A lot of the small farmers are having to get out of the business," Davis says.
So nothing is wasted. What's trimmed is used to make wreaths and with a window of opportunity of only six weeks to get the trees to market, there's no time to waste.