Christmas will soon be here, and picking out that perfect tree is a family ritual full of promise and fun.
“Over two million trees are harvested as Christmas trees across Canada each year,” said provincial woodlot extension specialist Toso Bozic. “We have very few Christmas tree growers in Alberta. The eastern provinces, British Columbia, Oregon and Washington state are the major suppliers of Christmas trees to Western Canada.”
When it comes to selecting a tree, Bozic says species choice is very important.
“The balsam fir tree species is often considered the ‘real’ Christmas tree and many growers grow this species for its special aroma. White spruce and varieties of pine are excellent choices as well.”
In Alberta, there are a few growers that offer U-cut Christmas trees.
“This is a great opportunity to talk with growers and learn about Christmas tree production. Production involves planting, weed control, pest control, shearing and making these trees perfect for you to buy. Besides the fun of choosing the right tree, getting lost in a sea of Christmas trees, going on a sleigh ride and drinking hot chocolate, getting your tree from a U-cut also supports hard-working Alberta farming families.”
Another alternative is getting a tree from Crown land.
“To do this, you will need to obtain a permit from an Alberta Government Forestry Office to cut a tree,” said Bozic.
Cutting your own tree guarantees it’s fresh. When buying one, the test is to grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it towards you.
“If the tree is fresh, no more than five or 10 needles should come off in your hand, unless it is very cold and dry outside, and then a few more needles may come off. This is a good time to check the fragrance of the tree as well.”