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How to keep your fresh-cut tree alive

Alexander Sinn • Dec 4, 2018 at 12:00 PM

NUNICA — The lasting popularity of live Christmas trees is good for local tree farms, as well as for the environment.

Roy Holmes, owner of R.A. Farms in Nunica, said tree sales are up 17 percent this year, which is on pace with a trend over the past several years. 

While artificial trees have grown in popularity in recent years, Holmes said people are reconsidering real ones for the holiday season. 

“People are switching back to natural trees because artificial trees fill landfills,” he said. “Real trees purify air. They add nutrients back into the ground. It’s amazing what they will do for the whole system.”

While real tree purchases were stable from 2016 to 2017, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, purchases of fake trees grew by 2.5 million. The majority of real Christmas trees purchased last year were at choose-and-cut farms like R.A. Farms.

R.A. Farms, which is home to 16,000 total trees, has seen 1,200 trees leave its property this year. About 3,000 new trees are planted at the farm each year.

Fraser fir is by far the most popular kind of Christmas tree, with its needles typically lasting 3-4 weeks. Holmes recommends avoiding blue spruces, which shed their needles in a couple of weeks.

The key to keeping a tree alive is giving it a fresh cut before getting it in the stand. 

“If the tree has been cut for a while, they have a tendency to seal over on the bottom,” Holmes said. “The fresh cut always helps.” 

Cold water is the time-tested best way to water a tree, he added.

R.A. Farms, at 12120 Apple Drive, has become a destination in recent years, Holmes said. The farm hosts horse-drawn wagon rides in November and December, with the last ones for the season going on from 12-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Santa will also make an appearance. 

“Once we get the kids involved, they bring the parents back,” Holmes said. 

Many people have already adorned their Christmas trees with ornaments, but it’s not too late to chop down a fresh tree. While sales typically drop off in the two weeks prior to Christmas Day, Holmes said they have made sales on Christmas Eve. 

After the holiday season, trees can be recycled a number of ways. They are usually run through a wood chipper for wood chips. Used trees can also be returned to R.A. Farms for disposal.

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