RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia growers are preparing an abundance of fresh Christmas trees for the holiday season. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the state has more than 500 Christmas tree farms located throughout the state. And to encourage the purchase a tree from the state, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has proclaimed December as “Virginia Christmas Tree Month.”Officials say that choosing a Virginia-grown tree means purchasing a renewable, recyclable product that supports local economies and the state’s largest industry _ agriculture.While most of the choose-and-cut farms open after Thanksgiving, officials have published a guide so people can begin their search sooner. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics released in May, the Virginia Christmas tree industry ranks seventh in the U.S. by total trees harvested.