For more than 500 years, people have brought trees into their homes to decorate for the holiday season. While some families choose artificial and pre-lit trees, plenty of people still want the real thing.
Since 2010, the value of Georgia’s Christmas tree crop has increased by about $2 million, to about $10.18 million, according to the 2013 University of Georgia Farm Gate Value Report released this fall.
Georgia-grown Christmas trees not only make a big impact on the state’s economy, they help families make lasting holiday memories.
“It’s more than just buying a tree; it’s getting people out to the farm and getting to know the farmers” said Kent Wolfe, director for the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It creates more of a memory that you get there with your family.”
“To see the kids come out and run through the trees and select that tree, it really brings a lot of joy,” added Greg Smith, owner of 7 G’s Farm, a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm located in Nicholson, Ga.
Whether your family wants a fir, cypress or cedar tree, and whether it’s fresh cut or from the local super-store, there are a few things you can do to make sure this year’s Christmas tree stays healthy and safe through out the holiday season.
- If you decide to cut your own tree, go to a tree farm. The farmers will be more than happy to help you in choosing the perfect tree for you and your family. “Typically, each farm will let you come in, select your tree and harvest the tree. We’ll assist you if you need assistance,” Smith said. “When you harvest a tree at a choose-and-cut farm, you know when it was cut.”
- Remember the height of your ceiling. There should be at least one foot between the ceiling and your tree’s highest point.
- Test the freshness of your tree. The needles should be firmly attached, and very few should fall off when the tree is shaken.
- Make sure that the tree’s trunk is straight and at least 6 to 8 inches long. This ensures that the tree can be safely stabilized in the tree stand.
- For pre-cut trees, place a fresh cut along the base of the tree before placing it into the stand to help keep it fresh.
- Before you bring the tree inside, check for any insects or other animals that may be hiding in the tree to avoid any unwanted visitors this holiday season.
- Until it is time for your tree to be decorated, keep it sheltered but from away from sources of direct heat.
- Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. “Water is a key item when you do a choose-and-cut tree. When you get it home, get it directly in water. These trees will typically drink up to 2 gallons a day,” Smith said.
- Water, water and more water. Not only does watering keep your tree fresh and standing tall, but it keeps it from becoming a fire hazard.
- Enjoy your beautiful tree, and have a happy and safe holiday season with your loved ones.
In addition to being a Georgia Christmas tree advocate, Smith is the state coordinator for the Trees for Troops program, which provides live Christmas trees to armed forces service members and their families stationed domestically and internationally. For more information, please visit www.treesfortroops.org.