Oh Christmas Trees

Christmas is just around the corner and trees and greens are a topic of conversation around our house.  A little searching on the internet will bring up a lot of information about Christmas Trees and the traditions surrounding them.  Most websites conclude the tradition of hanging greens on doors or windows has been around for a long time. One website said Ancient people in some countries thought the greens would keep witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness away. It went on to say evergreens were a symbol in some festivals and celebrations that proved the dark days of winter would soon be getting shorter and spring would return. There is more information about the Germans being the first to bring the tree inside and decorate it as a Christmas Tree and how they brought the tradition with them to America.

The Department of Natural Resources also has a plethora of information about Christmas Trees. This includes how to care for them, where to place them and how to water them.  They also suggest purchasing a local tree to help prevent the potential spread of invasive species.  According to my reading I think I’m doing most things right.

Most of the talk at our house has been about selling Christmas wreaths for the kids’  band fundraiser. If you’re in the neighborhood and want a pretty wreath then email or give us a call.  For $25 you can support the kids on their goal to raise money for a band trip and maybe even keep evil spirits, ghosts, witches and illness out of your house while reminding yourself winter won’t last forever.

Tis the Season-MN DNR
Christmas Tree Care Tips

Make a fresh cut. Cut at least 1 inch from the bottom of the trunk just before bringing it inside and putting it in the stand. This re-opens the tree stem so it can drink water.
Water immediately. After making the fresh cut, place the tree in a large capacity stand with warm water. The stand you use should hold at least 1 gallon of fresh water.
Place Christmas tree away from heat sources. Heat sources like heat registers, space heaters, fireplaces, etc. speed up evaporation and moisture loss of the tree.
Check water level daily. Do not allow the water level to drop below the fresh cut or the stem will reseal and be unable to drink. Christmas trees are very thirsty!
This information came from The Minnesota Department of Agriculture.  More information can be found at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/food/minnesotagrown/christmastrees.aspx

The most common Minnesota native trees that are used for Christmas trees include:  white spruce, red (Norway) pine, white pine and balsam fir.  Christmas tree farmers in Minnesota plant 500,000 to 1.5 million tree seedlings every year.  It takes approximately 7-10 years to get a Christmas tree to the right shape and size.

An 88-foot tall white spruce from northern Minnesota was chosen to be this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree and is now standing proudly in front of the White House.


Question of the week

Q: When I hiked in the Black Hills of South Dakota recently, I observed the many dying trees related to insect infestation. We take all these precautions when using firewood, but is there cause for concern with Christmas trees being shipped from various places around the nation? It seems like a possible way to spread pests and diseases.

A: You are right to be concerned. According to the lead nursery inspector at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), most of our imported Christmas trees are from Michigan and Wisconsin, along with Fraser fir from the Carolinas. Gypsy moth is the main concern on trees coming from those states, and regional inspectors visually check Christmas trees as they come into Minnesota in bulk. The Agriculture Department also conducts spot checks on tree sales lots. The focus of these inspections is proper certification under all applicable state and federal quarantines.

Mountain pine beetle is the insect responsible for killing pines in the Black Hills and in much of the western United States. This insect attacks trees that are 5 inches or more in diameter. Most Christmas trees you’ll find on sales lots are smaller than this. The MDA is considering regulations to prevent the importation of pine wood with bark on it from states where mountain pine beetle occurs. These regulations would be enforced through a state exterior quarantine tentatively scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Finally, consider buying Christmas trees grown in Minnesota. That way, you can be sure you won’t be importing an unknown pest.

Val Cervenka, DNR forest health program coordinator

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