UW-Extension Cooperative Extension
Our current news is available on our FYI News site. This is an archive of news releases from 1/1/1997 through 10/1/2009.
Contact: Patti Nagai, 262-886-8460
Entry Date: December, 2005
File Under: Horticulture
Christmas trees hold an important place in Wisconsin agriculture
Madison - Growing fresh Christmas trees is big business in Wisconsin. The state is fifth in the nation in the production of trees for the holidays with 1.8 million trees sold each year. Wisconsin is third in the nation for acreage in Christmas trees. It’s not just about quantity,
though; Wisconsin grows quality trees. Since 1966, six Wisconsin trees have been selected for display in the Blue Room of the White House. The most recent Wisconsin winner of the National Christmas Tree Contest was in 2003.
University of Wisconsin-Extension Racine County horticulture educator Patti Nagai said about 27 million trees were sold last year in North America for holiday display, with 7.3 million purchased directly from a
Christmas tree farm. Wisconsin has 1,387 Christmas tree farms – finding a farm where you can choose and cut a tree should not be difficult.
More than a million acres are in Christmas tree production in all 50 states and Canada. This is good for the environment. "Each acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people, so Christmas trees nationwide make enough oxygen for over 18 million people," Nagai explained. "For every tree that is cut down, two or three are planted. Christmas trees are recyclable -- their boughs make wonderful protective covering for many
of our tender plants and if chipped and shredded, they make beautiful mulch."
Nagai said evergreens have been used as a symbol for the celebration of life for hundreds of years. In many cultures, evergreens represent everlasting life, which may be how they came to evolve as part of the holiday season celebration. "In many families, the Christmas tree is a strong tradition, and just the fragrance of a fresh tree can evoke happy childhood memories," she said.
Several varieties of Christmas trees are grown in Wisconsin. People choose their favorites based on their preferences about height, width, shape, fragrance, sturdy boughs, softness or color. Some choices to consider are:
Balsam Firs are fragrant and have sturdy boughs and soft, green needles 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long. These are the most popular trees on the market in Wisconsin, and are the type of tree used in the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda.
Douglas Firs, not true firs, have soft dark green to blue-green needles 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. Crushing the needles releases fragrance.
Fraser Firs have fragrant, sturdy boughs with soft, silvery needles underneath. Needles are 3/8 to 1-1/4 inches long and long-lasting, remaining on the tree throughout the holiday season with proper care.
Scotch (or Scots) Pines are bushy, sturdy, full trees with 1-1/2- to 3-inch stiff needles that are flattened and twisted. The bright green to blue-green needles stay on the tree well, even when dry.
Eastern White Pine is native to Wisconsin and has moderately strong boughs and soft, long 2- to 5-inch needles. It is blue green with a touch of white color. This tree drapes gracefully when decorated with
White Spruce, also native, has strong boughs and stiff, prickly needles, blue-green in color.
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