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Science of Weather: Christmas Tree Farming

Science of Weather: Christmas Tree Farming
Science of Weather: Christmas Tree Farming 03:16

It's the holiday season, and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at Candy Cane Tree Farm in Oxford Michigan. Trees like this take approximately ten years to grow to be ready to be tagged and cut down for your Christmas tree at home. So, the weather we have this year will affect your tree of Christmas future. 

Catherine Genovese, owner of Candy Cane Christmas Tree Farm describes the farm, "We have about sixteen or so acres of the actual planted trees. We have Frasier fir, Concolor fir, and Korean fir. We start with a four-year-old transplant. It's extremely critical that first year for that transplant to take that we do have the right moisture."

So what is the right amount of moisture?

"We want plenty of rain in the spring where the trees get enough water. Although, we're under drip irrigation, the rain from heaven is always the best. And, given the right rainy seasons early when the trees are sprouting, that certainly helps them to get off to a really good start." Genovese explains.

But dry weather can affect young and established trees.

"If you have an especially dry season, it may have some effect on needle retention. But, if you don't have irrigation and you have a severe drought, that can kill a full-size tree at that point," says Genovese.

There are other factors that play a role in the growth and health of your Christmas tree such as temperature and frost.

"They can take a variety of temperatures. We have 95° days and as long as they're well hydrated they can take that. But on a routine basis, if that goes on for a long time it doesn't work." Genovese continues, "In Michigan, we do not like to see a late frost because a late frost can kill the Concolor fir. These sprout faster than other furs that we have and when they sprout and you have the new little shoots out and a frost comes it kills the new growth. So we don't want a late frost. She explains, "If the tree survives that first couple of years it's going to do well at cutting time— assuming it has the fertilization and irrigation and rainfalls. We can expect them to last well past Christmas."

Real trees are more ecologically friendly than artificial trees. So what happens to our trees after Christmas?

Genovese answers, "Big trees can take up to 700 years to disintegrate in a landfill. Whereas a fresh tree can go to the parks and be chipped and used in the paths and be reused."

Now that's the science of weather. At Candy Cane Tree Farm in Oxford, Michigan. I'm Karen Carter. 

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