Most live Christmas trees withstood hurricane damage

Donald Reed, Blanchard, Tobie M.  |  11/25/2008 11:15:17 PM

News Release Distributed 11/25/08

Although Christmas trees were among the thousands of trees damaged during the hurricanes that hit Louisiana this year, this shouldn’t affect the current holiday season, according to Don Reed, LSU AgCenter wildlife and forestry specialist.

“Many Christmas trees at choose-and-cut farms were blown over. Some younger trees suffered root damage and are dying,” Reed said. “You may see effects a couple of years from now, when growers may have to plant some bigger planting stock to catch up from some losses from the hurricanes this year.”

Farm owners were able to pick up and stake many trees that blew over. Although this involved more labor, Reed, who also owns a Christmas tree farm, said he doesn’t think the extra work will mean higher prices for fresh trees.

Most local choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms will open after Thanksgiving. In Louisiana, you will typically find the varieties Leyland cypress, Carolina sapphire and Virginia pine trees.

Leyland cypress is the most widely grown variety in the state, according to the specialist. This variety is popular with people who suffer from allergies because it doesn’t produce oleoresins, the compounds that give off that Christmas tree scent, but aggravate allergies.

Reed said when picking out a tree at a choose-and-cut farm or tree lot, look for a straight trunk and fresh needles.

“Make sure you can run your fingers through the needles, and they don’t fall off. Look at the overall color of the tree to make sure there are no brown spots.”

After choosing a tree, cut about an inch off the base of the tree and always keep it in water.

“These trees can take a lot of water, especially the first few days after they’re cut. Keep plenty of water in the stand.”

And there is no need for additives, “just plain old water will do,” Reed said.

After the holiday season don’t leave your tree on the curb for garbage collection. Many communities recycle the trees and use them for coastal erosion projects or for mulch. Reed also said they make great reefs in fish ponds.

To find a choose-and-cut tree farm in your area, visit www.southernchristmastrees.org.

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Contact: Don Reed at (225) 683-5848, or dreed@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Tobie Blanchard at (225) 578-5649, or tblanchard@agcenter.lsu.edu
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