Tree farmers hope for ‘evergreen’ Christmas this year

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POLAND, OH (WKBN) – With Thanksgiving now in the rear view mirror, many people have their sights set on Christmas. And what’s Christmas without a tree?

Tree farmers are hoping that people in search of that perfect holiday symbol will boost sales this season and keep farms going through the lean months.

Pioneer Trails in Poland is a 40-acre farm, boasting over 30,000 trees. Owner Mary Jan Perdulla says they work all year preparing for the three weekends in December when the farm earns the most money.

A drier May than normal hurt the trees this year. Perdulla said the seedlings planted in the spring didn’t get any rain for a month.

“We probably lost about one-third of the baby trees, the seedlings we planted this spring,” Perdulla said.

If Mother Nature doesn’t dictate a downturn, there is fierce competition with artificial trees.

John Fodor with Fodor Tree Farm, also in Poland, said the number of people putting live trees in their home has decreased dramatically.

“In the 90s, 50 percent of America was putting a live tree in their house. Back a few years ago it was 18 to 19 percent,” Fodor said.

Fodor says the numbers are beginning to rebound, and he’s getting a lot of first time buyers each year.

Tips for selecting the perfect Christmas Tree: (Courtesy: National Christmas Tree Farmers Association)

  • Measure your space – Be sure you know what size (height and width) you need before heading to the retail lot. Measure the ceiling height in the room where the tree will be displayed. The trees in the field look small when the sky is the ceiling. Don’t overbuy. Measure the width of the area of the room where the tree will be displayed. Most trees on tree farms are trimmed to an 80% taper. So a tree that’s 10′ tall will be 8′ wide at the bottom. A tree that will fit in the room vertically may be entirely too big horizontally.
  • Think about what type of decorations you will be using –  Some species have more open foliage, stiffer branches or longer needles. Research the characteristics of the different species in our tree varieties section, then find a farm near you that has the species you are looking for.
  • Learn about the different species of trees – If you want the same species you know or have always used, great. If you want to try a different species, browse the tree varieties section of NCTA’s website to become familiar with the species popular in your area before heading to the retail lot.
  • Safety first – Go to a retail lot that is well-lit and stores trees in a shaded area.
  • Ask questions about the trees at the lot – Ask the retailer when he/she gets the trees: are they delivered once at the beginning of the season, or several shipments during the season? Often, a tree obtained soon after its arrival on the retail lot will be very fresh because it was cut recently. Also ask the retailer which tree type performs best in your climate. Some species last longer and remain fresh longer than others in different climates.
  • Do a branch/needle test for freshness – Run a branch through your enclosed hand – the needles should not come off easily. Bend the outer branches – they should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.
  • Look for other indications of dryness – Indicators might include: excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor, needle pliability, and wrinkled bark. A good rule-of-thumb is, when in doubt about the freshness of a tree, select another one. If none of the trees on the lot look fresh, go to another lot.
  • Recycle your tree – Ask the retailer about recycling Christmas Trees in your community. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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