CLEMSON, S.C. -- Christmas tree growers in South Carolina have good reason to be cheerful this season.

Steve Penland of the South Carolina Christmas Tree Association says the stateís tree sales were up 15 percent last year, and growers are expecting another strong showing.

Former Clemson University professor George Kessler has been growing Christmas trees in South Carolina since 1971. He says people love to buy real Christmas trees as they celebrate traditions they recall from childhood.

Kessler also says itís better for the environment to buy a fresh-cut, locally grown tree than one thatís been shipped from a distance.

The National Christmas Tree Association says South Carolina has nearly 2,000 acres devoted to Christmas tree production and harvests approximately 30,000 trees per year.