Some U-cut Christmas tree farms closed but supply adequate

Chal Landgren

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of Christmas tree sales in Oregon this year, according to Oregon State University Extension’s Christmas tree specialist.

Supply should still be adequate – even better than the last few years – but some U-cut farms will bow out this year, said Chal Landgren, a professor in OSU’s College of Forestry at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora.

“There will be some U-cut farms that don’t open,” Landgren said. “Some U-cuts will go by reservation. But there should be plenty of trees for the holidays.”

Oregon leads the nation in Christmas tree production. But in recent years, drought and a shortage of seedlings caused a situation where demand outstripped supply, Landgren said. Because of the pandemic, however, tree farms have had to change the way they work.

Although it’s a seasonal item, Christmas tree production is a year-round operation. As late as March, tree farms had multiple workers traveling together in a single vehicle. That ended with pandemic restrictions and protocols that slowed down the work.

Landgren, who operates Landgren Tree Farm in Columbia County, points to the nonprofit NW Christmas Trees site, which features an extensive list of U-cut farms and contact information so that visitors can call ahead to see if they are open.

Landgren offers some tips for those who will be buying a natural tree this year.

  • To tell if a tree is fresh, look at the base to see if there are needles.
  • Run your hand over a branch to see if needles are dry and break off easily.
  • Branches should be flexible. Shake a branch to see if it moves easily. Check the smallest branches, which dry out first.
  • If it’s been more than an hour since you cut the tree, cut a little slice off the base. If it will be a few days since you brought the tree home, slice off the base and keep it in a bucket of water.
  • Use a tree stand that’s appropriate for the size of the tree.
  • It’s very important to keep your tree watered, Landgren said. Don’t let it dry out or it will start to lose needles. Don’t add anything to the water.
  • Some trees will last longer than others. Nordmann, Turkish and Noble can last all of December if kept watered. Douglas-fir, which are less expensive and have a distinctive Christmas scent, don’t last as long,
  • Don’t put the tree near any heat source.

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