With Thanksgiving over, it’s time to get started with our holiday decorations since Christmas is only a month away. The Christmas tree is one of the most time-honored traditions that families tend to observe with their families.
Christmas trees can be purchased in a number of ways, but the two most popular come from retail lots and select and cut farms. You can also buy a bale and burlap tree to plant after the holidays.
Many different species of Christmas trees are sold. The most popular are white pine, Fraser fir, Scots pine, and Norway spruce.
It is very important for consumers to be able to tell whether a tree is fresh or not. In general, each tree should look green and healthy without a large number of dead or browning needles. The needles should appear cool and flexible, and should not come loose in your hand if you gently stroke a branch. A useful trick is to lift a cut tree a few inches off the ground and drop it onto the cut butt. The green needles must not fall from the tree. A few dried inner needles may fall off, but the outer green needles should definitely not be affected.
Needle retention, the length of time the needles should cling to branches, varies depending on the species and the freshness of the tree, according to Dave McGill, forest resources specialist, WVU Extension Service. According to Dave, Scots pine, white pine and firs have good needle retention. Spruce trees, although they are excellent shapes and great Christmas trees, tend to lose their needles more quickly. It is especially important to keep these trees well in the water.
Christmas tree maintenance
Once you’ve come home safe and sound with your Christmas tree, its continued freshness depends on the type of care you provide.
The tree should have a new cut at the bottom, about 1 inch above the old base. This removes any clogged wood that may not easily absorb water. Then the tree should be placed in a stand with a large reservoir of water and located in the room. Depending on the size, species and location of the tree, it can absorb a gallon of water on the first day, so it should be checked frequently and re-watered if necessary. It is recommended that consumers simply keep the tree well watered with pure tap water. As long as the tree is able to absorb and transpire water, it is reasonably fire resistant.
It is important that the tree is always watered and that it does not dry out. If the tree dries out, it may not be able to adequately absorb moisture when watered and it will lose its needles prematurely.
The Christmas tree should be placed in a secure location, preferably near a wall or corner where it is not likely to be knocked over. Keeping the tree away from heat sources such as hot air ducts, wood stoves, fireplaces, etc., will help maintain freshness and reduce the risk of fire. Likewise, lighting cords and connections used in decorating the tree must be in good working order. Lights should always be turned off at bedtime or when you are going away for an extended period.
Fresh, well-watered Christmas trees do not pose a fire hazard. Trees that are withered, however, do. The best fire retardant is to keep the tree supplied with plenty of water.
According to the 2006 West Virginia Christmas Tree Production Survey, 22,531 West Virginia-grown trees were sold in 2006, of which 34% were sold at retail picked and cut by growers. Scots pines ranked first, followed by white pine second. White pine was the tree most often selected from the selected and cut farms. Growers expected to order 55,510 plants for the 2007 planting season. Production averages 12.7 acres per grower.
It takes 6 to 12 years of tree management for them to be harvested as Christmas trees. Growing Christmas trees requires an annual pruning of the trees to get the shape we most desire. Over 32 million Christmas trees are sold each year, grown on tree farms in the United States employing approximately 100,000 people in the live Christmas tree industry.
To find a Christmas tree farm in your area, check out the West Virginia Forestry Division Christmas Tree Book at: https://wvforestry.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/christmas-tree-book-2020.pdf
The scent of a Christmas tree can be a wonderful source of pleasure during the holidays. Hope you enjoy your traditions this holiday season.
I saw a bunch of cut trees heading north on my way home Tuesday night last week. I have heard warnings that there will be a shortage of living and artificial trees this year. You may want to take a trip to get your vacation tree early this year.
There are two Christmas tree farms listed in the WVDF Christmas Tree Book, both in Hedgesville. DeHaven’s Choose and Cut Christmas Trees and Pinecrest Tree Farm.
Teachers can find two lessons on Christmas trees on national agriculture in the classroom curriculum matrix. Discover Christmas trees for grades 3 to 5 located at https://www.agclassroom.org/matrix/lesson/537/ and for classes K-2 to: https://www.agclassroom.org/matrix/lesson/536.
Here is a link to a video on how they grow and harvest Christmas trees in Oregon using a helicopter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcmVOcCWbQg
Here’s a link to a video on real Christmas tree tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Rd4-v0_PEA
Berkeley-Jefferson Extension Master Gardener Program Selects Outstanding Master Gardeners
The Berkeley-Jefferson Extension Master Gardeners (BJEMG) hosted their 2021 Harvest Luncheon on Saturday, November 13 at the Hospice of the Panhandle.
They announced the outstanding 2021 BJEMGs as Art and Joyce Robison, from Berkeley County, and Audra Weisenberger, from Jefferson County. Art, Joyce and Audra were also recognized for five years of active membership as Certified Master Gardeners.
Mary Palmer was recognized for her 15 years of active membership. The following individuals from the 2019 BJEMG class have also been recognized: Rosalie Bares, Carrrie Blessing, Christina Daniels, Rhonda Gales, Linda Hill, Jean Marie King, Sandy Kovach, Bethel Quick and Violet Slavinski. Also recognized are the following people from the BJEMG class of 2020, certifying in 2021: Diana Daubert, Tina Hanigan (class of 2021), Rita Hennessy, Crystal Labenske (class of 2019), Michele Moskowitz (class of 2019), Catharine Myers, Catherine Palmer, Teresa Stogner and Emily Walker.
Barb Shepard’s move to Kansas and Bob Meadows has also been announced. who was transferred from Morgan County.
Recognition was given to longtime BJEMG Dan Boward. who recently passed away. Dan was a big supporter of Judicial Center Rain Garden and other Master Gardener activities. He shared his many talents with our Master Gardeners. Dan will be sadly missed.
Many thanks to Sharon Coombs for purchasing, preparing and serving the meal and to the volunteers who helped.
Until next time … Happy gardening and farming!
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