CORVALLIS – The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape for Christmas tree sales in Oregon this year, according to the Christmas tree specialist at Oregon State University Extension.
Supply should still be adequate – even better than in recent years – but some U-cut farms will be phasing out this year, said Chal Landgren, professor at OSU’s College of Forestry at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora.
“There will be some U-cut trusses that won’t open,” Landgren said. “Some U-cuts will be made by reservation. But there should be a lot of trees for the holidays.
Oregon is the national leader in the production of Christmas trees. But in recent years, drought and a shortage of seedlings have caused a situation where demand has exceeded supply, Landgren said. Due to the pandemic, however, tree farms have had to change the way they work.
Although this is a seasonal item, the production of Christmas trees is a year round operation. As recently as March, tree farms had several workers traveling together in a single vehicle. It ended with restrictions and pandemic protocols that slowed the job down.
Landgren points to the NW Christmas Trees site, which has a full list of U-cut trusses and contact information so visitors can call ahead to see if they’re open.
Landgren offers some tips for those purchasing a natural tree this year.
- To find out if a tree is fresh, look at the base to see if the needles are firmly attached.
- Run your hand over a branch to see if the needles are dry and break easily.
- Branches need to be flexible. Shake a branch to see if it moves easily. Check the smaller branches, which dry out first.
- If it’s been more than an hour since you cut the tree, cut a small slice from the base. If it’s been a few days since you brought the tree home, cut off the stalk and keep it in a bucket of water.
- Use a tree stand suitable for the size of the tree.
- It is very important to keep your tree watered, Landgren said. Do not let it dry out or it will start to lose needles. Do not add anything to the water.
- Some trees will last longer than others. Nordmann, Turkish, and Noble can last all of December if watered. The less expensive Douglas-fir with a distinctive Christmas scent does not last as long,
- Do not place the tree near a heat source.
– Kym Pokorny, [email protected]