Plantation-grown Fraser fir (Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.) Christmas trees were subjected to nine shearing regimes over nine years in a plantation in western North Carolina (USA). Treatments differed in the year of onset as well as the length of the residual leader (25 to 46 cm). Long leaders (36 to 46 cm) yielded trees that were taller than trees sheared with short leaders (25 to 30 cm), but the gain in height was offset by a lower average U.S. Department of Agriculture grade. Late in the rotation, trees sheared with 36–46-cm leaders were 17–34% heavier than those with 25–30-cm leaders. Average wholesale price of trees sheared with long leaders was 57% greater than that of trees sheared with short leaders. Assuming good bud density on leaders and branches, and considering other factors as well, the optimum leader length for Fraser fir Christmas trees in western North Carolina appears to be 30 to 41 cm (12 to 16 inches). Depending on site quality and variation in bud density and vigor among individual trees, leader length can be reduced, if necessary, to increase crown density.