PUYALLUP, Wash. – September may seem a bit early to be talking about Christmas trees, but it’s not if you are one of the more than 10,000 Christmas tree growers in the Northwest that supply about one-third of the world’s holiday conifers each year.
On Friday, Sept. 18, a group of Christmas tree experts and growers from Europe, Canada, and the United States will visit the Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center to view first-hand the latest research toward developing better Christmas trees.
The discussion and field tour will get underway at 9 a.m. at the WSU Puyallup Center located at 2606 West Pioneer in Puyallup (driving directions are at http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/directions.html).
According to WSU plant pathologist and internationally recognized Christmas tree expert Gary Chastagner, the research done by his team focuses both on identifying the most hardy and disease resistant trees for growers, and on producing improved trees for consumers.
“We’ll be showcasing the approaches we’ve developed for identifying trees with superior post-harvest needle retention,” he said. “For the consumer that means trees that stay fresh longer in the home and that are more fire resistant. We’ll also be showing our trials on the root rot susceptibility of a variety of conifer species.”
The tour will be the culmination of the 9th Annual International Christmas Tree Research and Extension Conference that has been underway at various locations in Oregon and Washington this week. The conference is jointly hosted by Oregon State University and WSU. Some 35 conferees are expected to attend the tour, along with a number of local Christmas tree industry leaders.
Growers in the two states harvest about 10.3 million Christmas trees annually with a wholesale value of $176 million, according to the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. Ninety-two percent of the trees are exported from the region, about half of them to California.
More information about Chastagner’s research program can be found at http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/ppo/ctr.html.
For more information on the Northwest Christmas tree industry visit http://www.nwtrees.com/aboutframe.htm.