Frequently Asked Questions about
Christmas Tree Farms and Pesticides

In western North Carolina, Fraser fir Christmas trees are produced in areas where tourism and retirement homes bring people to the area who have little prior contact with farming. Growers are often criticized for using too many pesticides, and citizens are concerned that these pesticides are adversely affecting the quality of streams in the area or their own health. However, Christmas tree production really requires far fewer pesticides than most of the commodities grown in the area such as pumpkins or apples. The following are some frequently asked questions and answers intended to help the non-farming public better understand the true impacts of the Christmas tree industry.

turkey in the Christmas trees

Pesticides Used in Christmas Trees

  • Just how much pesticide is used to produce a single Christmas tree?
  • What are the pesticides used to grow Christmas trees?
  • Why are they used? What pests do they control? Are they really necessary?
  • How do growers know if they need to apply a pesticide? What else do they do to control pests besides pesticides?
  • Why do they have to use herbicides? Why can't they just mow?

Health Concerns about Pesticide Use

  1. Should I be concerned about pesticides in my well water?
  2. Do these pesticides cause cancer?
  3. Are there increased risks of getting cancer by living in areas of Christmas tree production?
  4. Do farm workers face increased health risks from pesticide exposure?

Pesticide Application

  1. Can just anyone apply pesticides? What kind of training does an applicator have to go through?
  2. Why do they have to wear the white suits while applying these pesticides?
  3. Are there buffers required between a Christmas tree field and my property?
  4. What should I do if I think pesticides have drifted onto my property?

Environmental Impacts

  1. What are the impacts of pesticides and fertilizers on streams in the area?
  2. What are the effects of these pesticides on wildlife and farm animals grazing nearby?

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by North Carolina Cooperative Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension agent.

Prepared by Jill Sidebottom, Ph.D.
Area Extension Forestry Specialist, Mountain Conifer IPM
NCSU College of Natural Resources
NC Cooperative Extension Service

Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center
455 Research Drive
Mills River, NC 28759
Phone: 828.684.3562 ~ Fax: 828.684.8715

Web Crafter: Anne S. Napier and Jill R. Sidebottom

Updated October 1, 2010