Johnny Morgan, De Hoop, Cornelis F. | 12/1/2015 9:54:49 PM
BATON ROUGE, La. – Going in search of the perfect Christmas tree can be an annual event enjoyed by the entire family.
But bringing that beauty home is just the beginning of the process, according to LSU AgCenter forestry specialist Niels De Hoop.
Some details are involved in getting the tree you will be proud of throughout the holiday season.
“Look for a tree of pleasant form,” De Hoop said. “Then look at the trunk at the bottom to make sure it will fit in your tree stand – or in the stand you intend to buy.”
Examining the top of the tree to see if your top ornament – angel, star, etc. – will mount on it is very important.
Walk around the tree, because many trees have a good side and a not-so-good side, he said. Plan to face the not-so-good side toward the wall.
Be sure to purchase a tree stand that is wide enough to keep the tree stable and can also hold plenty of water.
“If a tree runs out of water while you sleep, it may never absorb water again and will be dry before Christmas,” De Hoop said.
Another consideration is ceiling height. Most ceilings are 8 feet tall, so a 6- to-7 foot-tall tree usually works best, he said.
“But remember to look at the width of the tree, too. Especially if the tree is going into a small room or apartment. It’s more fun if the tree doesn’t overwhelm your room,” he said.
When you get home with the tree but don’t have time to place it indoors immediately, put it in a bucket of water outside, in a place where it can safely lean in a corner.
“Whatever you do, don’t let it run out of water,” De Hoop said. “Even if it means getting up in the middle of the night the first night to top off the water. If you let it run out, you will likely need to take it out of the stand and cut an inch off the bottom of the trunk and hope it will absorb water again.”
And just water is all you need. “Some people put an aspirin in the stand to help it absorb water better. I tried it one year but could not tell any difference,” he said.
If you simply want a low-priced tree, the big box stores have them. They usually come from the Northwest, Great Lakes states or the Carolinas.
“The Leyland cypress grown locally have the advantage of being fresher and being more full – fewer openings between branches. Carolina sapphire trees are also grown locally,” he said. “They have a really nice ‘Christmas tree’ smell that will fill the house with an air of freshness.”
Some people like to visit a Christmas tree farm and cut their own tree. It’s a fun outing children enjoy.
Student members of the Society of American Foresters at LSU make the buying experience even more unique by selling trees they have maintained.
The Christmas trees sold by the students are grown in Washington Parish at the LSU AgCenter Lee Memorial Forest. The forest is a 1,200-acre tract of land and serves as a practical teaching laboratory and research station for forestry students and professors.
The trees have been intensively managed since they were planted.
“Management practices mainly include pruning and shearing to help the tree achieve its distinctive ‘Christmas Tree’ shape,” De Hoop said.
Each year, as trees are harvested for the holidays new seedlings are planted to ensure that the Leyland Cypress will continue to prosper. Two species of Christmas trees are currently grown at the Lee Memorial Forest – Leyland cypress and Carolina Sapphire.
“The students will be selling them from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. each evening this week,” he said. “We have 50 trees coming, which is slightly less than last year.”
They will average between 5-1/2 to 7 feet tall.
The price will be $7 per foot. For example, a 7 foot tall tree will be $49. They will be sold at the back of the Renewable Natural Resources Building, which can be accessed from Nicholson Extension. Cash or check (made to SAF at LSU) only. For more information on the trees call De Hoop at 225-978-6806.