During the holiday season you’ll see many cut Christmas trees for sale or a sign leading to a “u-cut” tree farm. A handful of people may drive to Forest Service land to look for a tree. This is the season when families are looking for the “right one” to continue the tradition of placing a fresh tree in a stand, watering and decorating it, and enjoying its forest-like fragrance inside the home.
Before you make your decision on whether to buy a cut tree this season, you ask “Shouldn’t I be planting a tree or buying a live tree to plant after the holiday? Wouldn’t that be better for our environment?”
Planting another oxygen-giver, carbon-holder plant (such as a tall growing tree), is beneficial to our environment, but buying a cut Christmas tree is also beneficial to the environment, the consumer and the tree farmer. This tree is 100% recyclable, decomposable and renewable, brings enjoyment to the family decorating it and enjoying it throughout the holidays and is grown as an agricultural crop for income, providing hundreds of local jobs in economy.
According to Michael Bondi, Professor of Forestry and Extension Chair Staff of Forestry and Christmas Trees of Oregon State University, extension.oregonstate.edu/clackamas, “25 million people will bring trees into their homes this season and 30% of the national supply is provided by Oregon Christmas tree farmers. It is one of Oregon’s top 10 agricultural crops and will generate more than $100,000,000 for Oregon Farmers this year.”
A farmer, his family and employees have dedicated hours to the care and nurturing of these trees, and like any other crop they must be harvested, sold, and replanted if the farmer is to sustain a Christmas tree business.
The Christmas Tree Acquaintance Packet provided by Michael Bondi through the Oregon State University Extension Service is resource information for anyone interested in becoming a Christmas tree farmer. To understand more fully a farmer’s investment one can read through the pages to see that work begins with pre-planting/site preparation, on to seedling purchase, planting, annual weed control, replanting replacement trees after the first year, basal pruning, culturing and top leader work, pest management, harvesting in years 7, 8, 9 and 10 and replanting new seedlings every time there is a harvest. At the end of the season all cut Christmas trees are ground up and composted.
Growers also contribute trees during the holidays to local organizations such as 4-H, Scouting, schools and church groups to sell; the profits go to enrich the organization and for community projects.
It is also helpful to compare the “carbon footprint” left by a man-made, synthesized item – like an artificial tree – compared to a cut tree. The real tree is biodegradable. When it is dismantled it will be left to decompose or be composted. When the artificial product is no longer used its owner will likely send it to a landfill.
Not only is buying a real tree a “green” thing to do, you can enjoy it’s beauty and fragrance in your home, know that a farmer, his family and employees (as well as the web of related jobs and their employees) reap the rewards of this crop, and through reforestation, another natural, renewable plant will live the Christmas tree cycle.
To learn more about Christmas trees go online to The National Christmas Tree home page (Christmastree.org), or visit your state and local extension agencies and libraries. You may also want to read about carbon footprints, small woodland managers, tree farmers and benefits of growing trees.