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From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.
Americans love Christmas trees. The National Christmas Tree Association says more than 35 million of them were bought in the United States in 2012. In large cities, many people buy trees that have already been cut. But some people drive to a tree farm and cut their own tree. The National Christmas Tree Association represents growers and sellers of most of the farm-grown Christmas trees in the United States. It estimates that 10.9 million artificial trees were sold in 2012, compared to 24.5 million natural trees. The group says the average cost of a natural tree was $40. The cost of an artificial one was about $70. Most Christmas trees are now grown on farms. The trees take six to 10 years to grow. To make sure there is always a supply, farmers usually plant one to three seedlings for every tree they cut down. The Christmas tree association says real trees are better for the environment. That is because as Christmas trees grow, they collect carbon dioxide and other gases while providing fresh oxygen. The trees also help to protect water supplies. Christmas trees are grown on soil that does not support other crops. After they are used, they can be cut up and used as fertilizer. Christmas trees helped many East Coast communities after super-storm Sandy hit the area. The trees were placed near large hills of sandy soil to prevent erosion. Artificial trees come mostly from China. They can be used year after year. They are usually made from plastic. Americans use them for an average of six to nine years before throwing them away. But these trees can remain in a landfill for hundreds of years.