A million Christmas trees will be sold

The most popular type is the Caucasian fir, followed by spruce trees

About 1 million Christmas trees are expected to be sold in the Czech Republic this year. Prices are similar to last year's, according to a trade association. Trees are sold from the start of December right up to Dec. 24, for people who really wait for the last minute.

The cheapest trees are somewhere around Kč 300. The most popular size is 1.5 to two meters tall. Prices vary from region to region and based on quality, but a two-meter Norway spruce or forest pine on average is about Kč 300–400, a black pine is a Kč 400–500, blue spruce about Kč 400–600 and a Caucasian fir tree is about Kč 500–1,000.

The Czech Association of Christmas Tree Growers (SPVS) says the use of Christmas trees does not damage the forest, as almost all of the trees are grown on plantations so they can get enough sunlight and water. Unlike artificial trees made of metal and petrochemical products, a natural tree is a renewable resource, the SPVS claims. The SPVS also points out there is small but growing trend for live trees that can be replanted after the holidays.

Some retailers base the price solely by height. An exception is Ikea, which only carries fir trees and sells them all for the same price. The trees range from 170 cm to 220 cm and cost Kč 499. People can pick the height and shape that suits them. The company sold some 39,000 trees in the Czech Republic last year.

The most popular species of Christmas tree is the Caucasian fir, which about 60 percent of people buy. The next is blue spruce at 20 percent, and domestic spruce and pine are another 10 percent. Fir and spruce are popular because they last longer and don't shed needles as much as pines. Stores confirm the trend, with one large retailer saying up to its half customers want fir and a third want blue spruce.

The SPVS says poor quality imported trees are becoming a problem. The association says some retailers use cheap and substandard trees for Poland and Denmark as a marketing gimmick to draw people into their stores.

The association adds that there is a sufficient supply of Czech trees, and imports only serve to hurt the local industry by putting pressure on prices. Domestic trees are also usually fresher than the imports. Some imported trees are cut as early as October, the SPVS claims.

Growing a tree takes a long time. The saplings spend two to four years in a nursery before being moved to plantations. A Caucasian fir takes some 10 to 15 years to reach 180 cm in height. A Norway spruce takes nine to 10 years, a blue spruce 10 to 13 years and a black pine eight to nine years.

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