News and Tribune

Lifestyles

December 1, 2012

AS GREEN AS EVER: Live Christmas tree yield largely unaffected by drought

(Continued)

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — BUYING YOUR TREE

Those considering a natural Christmas tree purchase this year need to be aware of a few things, among them the seller of the trees, according to Martin.

“They need to know where they’re buying it,” Martin said. “Some of these lots have had trees since back in the 10th or 15th day of November. I know there’s lots in Kentucky that’s had trees on them forever. I know some grocery store chains and different stores have had these trees since the first or second week of November, and these trees were cut ungodly too [soon].”

Trees that have been out too long are likely to die and dry out before Christmas day, Martin said.

“That’s what gives the real Christmas tree a bad slap in the face, because they dry out, the needles fall off of them and they are a fire hazard when you get one that’s been cut for a month, month and a half,” Martin said. “That’s not the customer’s fault, that’s the guy that’s selling the trees.”

The key to keeping a fresh tree alive is a good base and plenty of water. A tree between 6 and 8 feet in height can consume up to a gallon of water per day, and trees that aren’t regularly watered are likely to seal at the bottom as the tree’s sap hardens, Martin said.

DIFFERENT STYLES

The Fraser fir is what most buyers are looking for when they come to his lot, Martin said.

“They’ve got the most scent, always a good straight trunk,” Martin said. “They’ll hold their foliage. They’re a premium tree. They’ve got a soft needle and they’re great to decorate.”

Martin also uses the trimmings from Frasers to make wreaths.

Looking for something more traditional? The white pine may be for you.

“We’ve been selling white pines since back in the early ’70s,” Martin said. “It was a really popular tree, and then the Frasers came along. The white pine, it’s sort of gone by the wayside, but we still sell a lot of them.”

Where the white pine’s needles are long and soft, that’s not true for the Black Hills spruce, which Martin calls a “sticky needle tree.”

“There’s just a time and a place for a spruce,” Martin said. “Certain people like them, and that’s why we sell so many.”

When Martin got his start in the Christmas tree business 44 years ago, his best seller was the Scotch pine.

“It’s the original Christmas tree,” Martin said. “... We still sell a few of them. Some of the older people, some people like them. But it’s probably the least amount of trees we sell.”

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