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After the Turkey it’s on to the Christmas Tree

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Live tree shopping

Dan Cassens-PurdueMany Hoosiers are now making the quick transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. For some that means a live Christmas tree shopping experience and your choices this year should be excellent, just two years after drought took its toll here in the state. Dan Cassens is a Purdue University wood products specialist.

“The drought in 2012 was an interesting experience to say the least. We really thought we could lose all the trees, but the stronger trees prevailed and last year the trees looked good by the time Christmas season came around. This year, with the rain and cooler weather, the trees just grew beautifully,” Cassens said. “They were just really doing the best that they absolutely could.”

Cassens says the Scotch pine probably remains the most common species of Indiana Christmas tree.

“It’s a little bit easier to grow than some of the other species and it remains popular with a lot of choose and cut type farms. The two other most popular species are Frasier Fir and Canaan Fir, and they look very similar. They have some pretty specific requirements for growing in terms of soil ph, soil drainage and nutrient contents that they require. The Canaan Fir is a little bit easier to grow than the Frazier Fir, but from Indianapolis, Lafayette on up, you’ll find most choose and cut growers either have those species in the field or they bring them in from other locations and make them available.”

Those firs also cost about twice as much as a Scotch or white pine, Cassens said.

Cassens, a member of the National Christmas Tree Association, listed steps for consumers to keep in mind when buying and caring for a real tree:

* Size of the room, size of the tree: Cassens said that buying a tree that is too tall for a room can be wasteful because you will end up trimming the tree to make it fit, thereby spending more on the tree than what was necessary.

* Selecting a species: Once the right size of the tree has been determined, decide which species you want.

* Straightness of tree trunk: Fir trees are typically a straight-growing tree. Scotch pines tend to have some crooks in them.

* Freshness of tree: Insects or mechanical problems can cause yellowness. If a tree has any yellow spots, it is best to avoid them unless they are in a place that could be cut out.

* Base of tree: It is best to have a clean 6-8 inches to put into the handle of the tree stand. This will prevent having to cut any limbs that would leave bare spots in the base of the tree.

Cassens said it is most important to remember that the tree always needs water. With no water in the stand, the tree will start to dry out and not last as long.   

In the end, Cassens said the best thing to consider when shopping for a Christmas tree is to pick the one that is most appealing to you.   

“What species it is or how it looks doesn’t make that much difference,” he said. “Find the one you like and be happy with it.”

For more information, Purdue Extension has a free publication, Tips for First-time Buyers of Real Christmas Trees, available at The Education Store at https://www.edustore.purdue.edu.

Source: Purdue News