Mistletoe growers hoping for bumper prices at the first of the region's auction sales were a little disappointed at Tenbury Wells on Tuesday.

As with many fruit crops this year, mistletoe and holly is in plentiful supply reports auctioneer Nick Champion.

Mr Champion runs what is clearly the biggest annual sale of holly and mistletoe in the country and reports entries of the traditions white-berried mistletoe well up on last year.

"Normally we would expect in the region of 700 - 800 entries at this first sale," he said. "This year we received 1,100 lots."

Best quality mistletoe sold on Tuesday at 50p - 70p per lb, a level down on the previous year. Plenty of lots were also sold around the 25p mark.

Buyers were largely representing the trade and the mistletoe sold in Tenbury Wells will appear in shops and garden centres throughout the UK. In addition, some mistletoe was sold to go to the south of Ireland and one lot was sold to help decorate a local wedding.

Holly is in plentiful supply this year and, as with mistletoe, it has had an effect on prices.

"It is one of the best-ever years for berries on holly," added Mr Champion. "Everyone has berries on their holly. Consequently prices are down on those of 2005."

However, prices remained very firm on both plain holly and variegated holly, being slightly up on 2005 with best plain at 75p and most around 50p. Variegated holly was selling around £2 a lb.

In addition, the auction also sold between 2,000 and 3,000 wreaths together with around 1,000 trees. Noble fir was attracting bids up to £8 and Norway spruce £4.

The annual sale of holly, mistletoe, Christmas trees and wreaths has been a part of the annual market scene in Tenbury Wells for generations and its history can be traced back well over 100 years.

Mistletoe is a naturally occuring parasitic growth which establishes itself very slowly on trees, mainly apple. It is spread by birds which eat the mistletoe berries.

More recently in Tenbury Wells the mistletoe sales have been boosted by the town hosting a Mistletoe Fair spread around National Mistletoe Day on Friday.