Extension support keeps Oregon Christmas trees on top

two men talk at a Christmas tree farm
OSU Christmas tree specialists test new tree varieties for resistance to diseases and insect pests. (photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Extension helps make sure exported Christmas trees are pest-free

Oregon is the No. 1 producer of Christmas trees in the U.S., selling 6.4 million trees for $110 million in 2012. Much of that is exported. But before they can be shipped, the trees need to be free of hitchiking pests like midges, slugs and yellow jackets.

So the OSU Extension Service created a 70-page, full-color, pocket-sized, bilingual field guide to help Christmas tree workers indentify and manage pests. It also teaches workers, frequently in Spanish, how to scout for insects and diseases.

For decades, Oregon's tree farms have grown Douglas-fir and noble fir, which together dominate the Pacific Northwest Christmas tree industry. But now OSU Extension is helping them expand their options. Researchers are evaluating Turkish, Trojan and Nordmann firs brought to Oregon from the mountains of Turkey. They're studying which species grows faster, and they're testing them for resistance to diseases and insects to see if they will perform better. In the case of Nordmann and Turkish firs, they have proven to resist root rot better, which means they can be grown on a wider range of sites than noble fir. Nordmann and Turkish firs are also not prone to aphid attacks, which cuts down on pesticide use. And they have consumer appeal because they hold their needles longer when kept in water.

Contact: Chal Landgren, OSU Extension’s Christmas tree specialist

Source: Pacific Northwest Christmas Treee Association

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