‘Real’ Christmas trees are big business, quite a bargain in NW

Here are a few facts to consider before purchasing the family tree.

  • Sunday, November 25, 2018 11:30am
  • Life
‘Real’ Christmas trees are big business, quite a bargain in NW

The weekend following Thanksgiving is when thousands of families begin to celebrate a green holiday season by displaying honest-to-goodness, real Christmas trees in their homes.

It is when America’s Christmas tree growers display their trees at retail lots or invite families to visit their country farms to have fun harvesting home-grown trees.

Christmas tree farmers spend years and considerable dollars nurturing their trees. They are faced with many challenges before a tree reaches maturity following several years of TLC.

The following are some interesting facts and suggestions about the tree a family is going to display in its home.

1. Christmas trees are a terrific bargain when comparing how long moms, dads and kids can enjoy them compared to other family activities. For example, we can celebrate and enjoy the smells of a $60 real tree for up to three weeks versus enjoying a $60 family dinner on the town for one to two hours.

2. Pacific Northwest farmers “baby” their trees for six to 10 years before realizing a return on their investment. During this time growers fight weeds, insects, diseases, heavy rain and/or drought to get a mature tree.

3. Nearly all Christmas trees are grown on plantations. Very few are harvested from the wild under programs sometimes organized by various national forests. Most are grown as sustainable crops like corn or pumpkins. They simply have much longer rotations.

4. Most trees require some type of culturing to create the Christmas tree shape. They are generally harvested when they reach 6 to 7 feet, the most popular sizes.

5. Some trees, like noble firs, cost more because they take longer to grow and have more problems and lower yields than Douglas fir trees. For example, 1,500 to 1,700 trees are generally planted per acre. On average, 80 to 85 percent of the Douglas fir and 60 to 65 percent of the noble fir trees will become marketable as high-quality Christmas trees.

6. Oregon and Washington produce nearly one-third of all Christmas trees harvested each year in the U.S.

7. In the Pacific Northwest, it is estimated that around 20 percent of the Christmas trees purchased are from choose-and-cut farms.

8. It is important to keep trees watered when they reach your home. In the first week, a Christmas tree will consume as much as a quart of water per day per inch of trunk diameter. Check water levels of your tree stands each day since the typical 4-inch diameter tree will drink around one gallon during the day.

9. If the base has dried out and sealed over with pitch before being placed in a tree stand, make a fresh cut by removing one-quarter inch of the trunk so the tree will once again take up water.

10. Research has proven that using plain old fresh water instead of all the “old wives’ tales” formulas is the best way to keep a tree fresh for two to three weeks.

For those families that wish to have a fun-filled adventure in choosing and cutting their own trees, the locations of many local tree farmers can be found at pscta.org.

Dennis Tompkins is an ISA certified arborist, ISA qualified tree risk assessor and Master Gardener from the Bonney Lake-Sumner area. He provides pest diagnosis, hazardous tree evaluations, tree appraisals, small tree pruning and other services for homeowners and businesses. Contact him at 253 863-7469 or email at dlt@blarg.net. Website: evergreen-arborist.com.


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Rajiv Nagaich is an elder law attorney, author, adjunct law school professor, and retirement planning visionary who has achieved national recognition for his cutting-edge work with retirees and his contributions to the practice of elder law. He is the founder of two firms based in Federal Way: Life Point Law, an elder law and estate planning firm, and AgingOptions, a firm that provides retirement-related education to consumers and professionals.
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