It’s time to think Christmas tree safety

(11/30/22) BATON ROUGE, La. — It may seem like we just finished the Fourth of July, but it’s time again to rearrange the furniture and find the perfect spot for this year’s Christmas tree.

Pretty much everywhere you look these days, there are trees being sold, hauled or trimmed. Taking proper care of a tree once you get it home could mean the difference between a merry Christmas and a disaster.

Kathy Rish, a Christmas tree vendor at Winn-Dixie in Zachary, who sells trees from Appalachian Farms of North Carolina, said freshness is the key to having a beautiful and safe tree.

“We’ve been open for almost two weeks and we’ve already received our second shipment in a week,” she said. “We get small shipments, so our trees are always fresh.”

Cornelis “Niels” de Hoop, associate professor in the Louisiana Forest Products Development Center at the LSU AgCenter, offered tips for selecting and maintaining your Christmas tree this year.

First, measure the area where you will place the tree to make sure you don’t buy a tree that’s too large.

Select a tree based on freshness. Freshness is checked by inspecting the flexibility of the branches. Also, check for any large dead spots around the tree that cannot be concealed.

If you must buy from a store, you can do a few things to determine whether the tree is fresh.

“For customers who must buy pre-cut trees, there is a freshness test you can do to determine just how fresh the tree is,” de Hoop said. “Gently grasp a branch and pull it toward you. If the tree is fresh, you won’t pull off many needles.”

Once you make the choice and bring the tree home, you should make a cut straight across the base of the trunk about 1/4 inch above the bottom and get it in water as soon as possible.

“During the first couple of days, the tree will take up lots of water,” de Hoop said. “So make sure you monitor the tree, and don’t let the water get low. Better yet, put it in a bucket of water in the shade for a day or two before bringing it inside.”

Do not let the tree stand go dry. Once the tree runs out of water, it will likely quit taking up water completely and die, he said.

“There are several ways that you can dispose of a tree,” de Hoop said. “A lot of times, fishermen will collect the Christmas trees and repurpose them as fish habitats in ponds or lakes.”

Before repurposing or disposing of a tree, be sure to remove all lights and decorations.

According to de Hoop, it appears that the Christmas tree market is a little tighter this year, resulting in prices being roughly 15% higher than last year.

“It goes back to about 2008, when the economy was down and many Christmas tree farmers decided to get out of the business and not replant,” he said. “As a result, supply is a little tighter.”

The annual Christmas tree sale is going on now on the LSU campus, de Hoop said.

“Money raised from the event helps pay for students’ national membership dues with the Society of American Foresters and funds club gatherings throughout the year,” he said.

Cut Christmas trees.

Christmas trees are being sold by forestry students on the LSU campus. They will be there until they are gone. The cost is $9 per foot, and they will only take cash or check. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

Woman looking for a Christmas tree.

Zachary Christmas tree vendor Kathy Rish checks on trees at her stand in the Winn-Dixie parking lot. She said her sales are up, and the shipments are coming in steadily. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

11/30/2022 6:44:47 PM
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