Most of us know that North Carolina is a huge producer of Christmas trees. In fact, we’re #2 behind Oregon. The raising and harvesting of Fraser firs is a key sector of western North Carolina’s economy. This story touches on how an NC State professor is helping the tree industry combat two threats to the industry. It’s a great example of how academia and industry can work together to help bolster economic growth. Here’s what John Frampton, a professor of forestry, is working on.

Moreover, pest problems have been developing. The two main problems have been root rot, calledphytophthora — a Greek word that means “plant destroyer” — and an introduced insect, the balsam wooly adelgid. Frampton is researching ways to combat both of them.

Unable to find resistance to the root rot in Fraser firs, Frampton has been inoculating and breeding resistance to the disease in other species of trees, such as the Moni fir, which is native to Japan.Frampton then teaches growers to graft the roots of the Moni firs to Fraser fir seedlings, creating plants with resistant roots and Fraser fir appearances.