Christmas Tree Trends, Myths, Tricks & Tips

Christmas Tree Trends, Myths, Tricks and Tips from MSU Professor and Christmas Tree Expert

By Russ White MLive.com

November 24, 2014

BC14.jpg

Bert Cregg

 by Hannah Watts

As one of the top Christmas tree producing states in the country, the Christmas tree industry is a vital part of Michigan’s thriving and improving economy, especially during the holidays.

Bert Cregg, Christmas tree expert and associate professor within Michigan State University’s Departments of Horticulture and Forestry, tells “Greening of the Great Lakes” host, Kirk Heinze, about changing consumer demands and proper tree care.

It seems last winter’s subzero temperatures had limited impact on the Christmas tree crop in Michigan and Cregg says the availability of trees for the 2014 holiday season remains strong.

“The biggest impacts in terms of growers would have been on very young trees so we won’t really feel an impact this year,” he says. “The recent cold weather is a good thing because early frost and cold weather helps set the needles and they stay on the tree better.”

Bert Cregg, A, associate professor of horticulture, poses next the a row of pine trees on Monday November 29, 2010. Cregg is researching methods to help tree farmers produce better yields.

msutoday.msu.edu

The key to finding a great living tree that lasts lies in its freshness and post-cut upkeep. Cregg mentions that tap and pull tests can help determine tree freshness even when buying at big box stores.

“If you are firmly pulling on the shoots and you have needles coming off into your hand that’s probably not the freshest tree,” he says. “The same goes for the tap test. If you can pick the tree up and tap it on the ground and needles are coming off, I’d look for a different tree.”

As consumer demand for living trees increases, the market is expanding to include a variety of breeds which can lead to hard decisions for consumers. Cregg mentions that the Fraser, Douglas and Concolor firs are popular choices for both their physical aesthetics and ability to be re-plated.

“You see more growers offering container grown trees that are still living, and if cared for properly, can be planted into a landscape after the holidays are over,” he says. “It offers a better option to those who don’t like the idea of cutting down the tree for one purpose.”

“The more water the tree is using, the fresher the tree is,” he says. “Once trees dry out they are difficult to re-hydrate.”

To preserve a tree through the winter for planting in the spring, Cregg recommends keeping it in an unheated, protected place like a garage or a porch. To preserve the tree’s cold hardiness, limit its total time indoors to no more than two weeks.

Despite popular myths, Cregg says the best thing for cut trees is just plain water and making sure it is getting enough of it.

“Keep the cut end of the tree in water until you bring it in the house,” he says. “If it’s been cut for more than a day, you want to go back and trim an extra inch or half an inch off the end to keep the tree fresh and able to soak up the water.”

As a general rule, Cregg recommends providing a tree with one quart of water for every inch of the diameter of it’s cut base. For example, a tree with a three inch base width would use about three quarts of water each day.

“The more water the tree is using, the fresher the tree is,” he says. “Once trees dry out they are difficult to re-hydrate.”

To prevent trees from ending up in landfills, Cregg recommends checking local community guidelines for recycling after the holidays.

“Most communities in Michigan have some type of recycling program, like curbside pickups or central drop off locations. Trees can get repurposed, ground into mulch or provide new habitats for birds and wildlife.”

Please click here to hear Cregg’s Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Heinze.

Greening of the Great Lakes airs every Sunday evening at 7:00 on News/Talk 760 WJR and around the state each weekend via the Michigan Talk Network. Please follow us on Twitter.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: