ANNAPOLIS (Nov. 23, 2009) Mention Christmas trees and the images quickly form: evergreens glistening with decorations and topped by an angel or star; family outings to select the perfect tree. This holiday season, why not start a new tradition by displaying a fresh, real Christmas tree grown by a Maryland farmer?
Maryland farmers work year-round to provide customers with high-quality, fresh, fragrant Christmas trees for the holiday season, said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. Buying locally keeps Maryland smart, green and growing. It supports our local economy and gives consumers an opportunity to experience a delightful time of year on the farm.
Like other farmers who produce a variety of the finest, fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products anywhere, Maryland tree farmers also raise Christmas trees as crops with one big difference: it takes eight to 14 years to grow a living-room sized tree.
Maryland farmers offer some of the freshest Christmas trees available, which come in several unique varieties. While the Fraser Fir is a popular choice, there are many additional varieties grown throughout the state. The Fraser does not always fare well in Maryland soils, but the Canaan is similarly beautiful and grown more easily and in more locations throughout the state. Additional Christmas trees varieties grown in Maryland include: Douglas Fir, Concolor Fir, Scotch Pine, White Pine, and Blue Spruce.
Consumers who are concerned about the environmental impact of cutting their own Christmas tree should be aware that it is common practice for Maryland Christmas tree growers to plant three new trees for each one cut down. Used trees can be recycled in a variety of ways, including local government programs to chip Christmas trees into mulch that returns valuable nutrients to the soil.
While it may appear that tree farming is a seasonal business, growers spend the entire year working their farms, said Wilma Muir, president of the 100-member Maryland Christmas Tree Association (MCTA). Tree planting, shearing and mowing can take up to 65 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.
The best way to guarantee that a Christmas tree is fresh and stays fresh is to cut or buy your tree at one of Marylands Best tree retail locations. You want a tree with needles that bend rather than break. Then an inch or so should immediately be cut off the bottom and the tree placed in large water-holding stand. The tree should be watered daily. If the stand runs out of water, the tree will seal itself up, unable to absorb more moisture.
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture for Maryland, there are over 200 tree growers in the state with nearly 3,000 acres in Christmas tree production.
Visiting a local farm to find the perfect Christmas tree is a great activity for families and a fun way to spend an afternoon. Many Maryland farms have additional tourism opportunities as well, such as sleigh rides and visits with Santa.
To find more information on the seasonal bounty offered by Marylands farms, as well as a listing of local Christmas tree farms, visit www.marylandsbest.net. For environmental benefits and the top 10 Myths vs. Facts about Christmas Trees, visit: www.christmastree.org/myths.cfm. To learn more about how to care for your farm-grown fresh Christmas tree, or about Christmas tree varieties grown in Maryland, visit: www.marylandchristmastrees.org/treevarieties.html.
Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture