Tree growers enjoy prime conditions

Nov. 29, 2012 @ 08:18 AM

It’s a buyer’s market for Christmas tree shoppers this year thanks to a bumper crop of them.

Craig Adkins with the Caldwell County Cooperative Extension says there is an abundance of good locally grown trees thanks to optimal growing conditions this season.

“They’re of high quality and really fresh in the sense that the growing conditions in the late summer and early fall with the rains we had made it favorable for the trees,” said Adkins. “The moisture contents are high, so when (farmers) cut them, they should be of high quality.”

Adkins recommends searching for the freshest tree you can find and to get it in some water when you get it home to keep it from drying out.

“(Shoppers) should be able to go through the holiday season with a highly desirable locally grown North Carolina tree,” he said. “If there’s moisture in the ground, the tree’s going to be at maximum moisture when they cut it. It’ll be a heavier tree, and it will last longer once it goes to the tree lot and, subsequently, to someone’s home for Christmas.”

Adkins says shoppers need to look for trees with a uniform shape, a straight leader at the top and one that appears to be fresh. If you bend a branch and it springs back, it has a high amount of moisture in it. When you take it home, Adkins recommends shaking the tree out before putting it in the stand or taking a leaf blower to get rid of any dead or detached needles so they don’t make a mess in the house. He also says it’s a good idea to make a fresh cut of about an inch at the butt end of the tree to cut away the rosin cap that keeps moisture from entering the tree once it’s in a stand and watered.

“A good sign that it’s taking up water is it will go through a couple of gallons a day initially,” he said.

Adkins says prices will be comparable to last year, and shoppers should be able to find a good fresh-cut tree grown in North Carolina.

“By doing that, they’re helping support something that’s been locally produced and helping to sustain the small farmer and helping stimulate the local economy,” he said. “What people don’t realize is these tree lots are going to have trees grown in adjacent counties. Sometimes when you go to the larger merchandisers, those trees possibly have come in from other geographic regions of the country. That’s one reason they may be cheaper, of lower quality and of a different species usually. The Cadillac of the Christmas tree is the Fraser fir, and that’s what we grow in North Carolina predominantly.”