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Christmas tree supplies in tip-top shape this season

Minnesota has a fresh, fragrant crop of Christmas trees this year thanks to a great growing season. Many tree farms will open for business the day after Thanksgiving and growers say the selection will be fabulous.

"This year, the trees are exceptionally moist and fragrant because of the consistent rain we had this summer and fall," said grower Jan Donelson of Clear Lake. "That moisture should help them hold up very well in the stand."

Donelson is a member of the Minnesota Christmas Tree Association (MNCTA) and her farm is among 55 tree farms and lots listed in the 2010 Minnesota Grown Directory. Minnesota Grown trees can also be found at neighborhood lots; even some major retailers will carry them.

Minnesota Grown spokesman Brian Erickson says choosing a real tree has many benefits beyond its beauty.

"Of course, for the full-blown fun family experience, nothing beats a trip to a tree farm," says Erickson. "Beyond the economic, environmental and aesthetic benefits of a real tree, the true gift is the family tradition and fun of choosing your own tree."

At the farm, families may find a variety of activities including live reindeer and a visit from Santa. Most farms offer hot cider, coffee and cookies, and many have unique gift shops where they sell custom-order wreaths, ornaments, tree stands and crafts. Services provided at the farm may include shaking and baling. Many growers are happy to supply saws for cutting and most will help customers load the tree for an easy trip home.

Finding a locally-grown, fresh tree is easy by searching the directory at .

For tips on choosing and caring for a real tree, go to the MNCTA website at .