Christmas will soon be here, and picking out that perfect tree is a family ritual full of promise and fun.
“Over two million trees are harvested as Christmas trees across Canada each year,” says Toso Bozic, woodlot extension specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “We have very few Christmas tree growers in Alberta. The eastern provinces, British Columbia, Oregon and Washington State are the major suppliers of Christmas trees to Western Canada.”
When it comes to selecting a tree, Bozic says species choice is very important.
“The balsam fir tree species is often considered the ‘real’ Christmas tree and many growers grow this species for its special aroma. White spruce and varieties of pine are excellent choices as well.”
In Alberta, there are a few growers that offer u-cut Christmas trees. “This is a great opportunity to talk with growers and learn about Christmas tree production. Production involves planting, weed control, pest control shearing and making these tree perfect for you to buy. Besides the fun of choosing the right tree, getting lost in a sea of Christmas trees, going on a sleigh riding and drinking hot chocolate, getting your tree from a u-cut also supports hard-working Alberta farming families.”
An option to going to a u-cut Christmas tree grower is to get a tree from Crown land. “To do this, you will need obtain a permit from an Alberta Government Forestry Office to cut a tree. If you decide to go this route, make sure that you are dressed appropriately for cold weather, bring tree-cutting tools, and that you have room in your vehicle for the tree in, and let your friends or family know the location you are going to.”
“When cutting your own tree, you know that it’s fresh. When buying a Christmas tree, be sure to conduct a freshness test. Grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it towards you. If the tree is fresh, no more than 5 or 10 needles should come off in your hand, unless it is very cold and dry outside, and then a few more needles may come off. This is a good time to check the fragrance of the tree as well.”
Another important consideration when having a real Christmas tree in the house is fire safety. “It’s a wonderful family tradition, but be sure to follow the instructions for keeping the tree watered so that it doesn’t dry out and present a fire hazard. As well, real Christmas trees are 100 per cent reusable and recyclable. Once the needles are off you can chip it or use it in a woodstove or fire pit if weather permits. You can also contact your municipality for details of where and how to recycle the tree in January.”
From Alberta Agri-News