The smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree can evoke visions of majestic evergreen forests teeming with winter wildlife.
In truth, more than half of U.S. Christmas trees come from farms in Oregon, North Carolina, or Michigan.
Cut Christmas trees are a commodity, tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture just like corn or soybeans.
These USDA aerial images show tree harvest patterns over 12 years in Ashe County, North Carolina. It takes an average of seven years for a tree to grow to a sellable height.
Harvest patterns are not always uniform. In some areas, trees are harvested from one field while those in neighboring fields are left to grow. On other fields, trees are thinned over time.
Aerial imagery from the USDA is archived by EROS and available to the public at no charge, at Christmas time or any time at all.