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FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Q:) I'm interested in growing Christmas trees. Where do I find information about getting started?
A:) Each year the Extension office teaches a program called the Christmas Tree Acquaintance Class. It's designed to help people decide if the Christmas tree business is the right fit for them. Topics covered in this class range from the time, equipment and financial resources needed to succeed in the business, to site selection, management steps and tree marketing. The class is offered in the winter.
Also, Extension has a publication titled Growing Christmas Trees in the Northwest (PNW 6) it's a great publication for those wanting more information about getting started in this crop.
Q:) I've noticed trees dying in my forest. Will this spread? What should I spray?
A:) Forest trees die for lots of reasons. Disease and insects are a couple of likely causes. But, weather problems (freezes and drought) and animal or mechanical damage are other possibilities. First, find out what is killing the tree(s) before doing anything. Controlling forest insects is very difficult. Controlling forest diseases is next to impossible with sprays. There's not much you can do about weather or environmental problems. Feel free to bring a sample of the damaged tree into the Extension office for further diagnosis.
Q:) I just planted trees. Do I need to worry about the weeds growing around them and if so, what do I do?
A:) Weed control around newly planted trees is very important in the North Willamette Valley and Cascade foothills area. Our dry summers make tree survival a challenge especially the first two or three years of the seedling's life. Competing vegetation like grasses, broadleaves and woody plants have more vigorous root systems and will get any moisture in the ground before the trees. As a result, eliminating the weeds around the base of the planted trees is a good idea in forest areas. This can be done by hand or by spraying an herbicide. In Christmas tree plantings, complete weed control (whole field) is the standard practice. This is typically done with herbicide applications or by tillage.
Q:) I need to plant some trees. Where can I buy seedlings?
A:) Tree seedlings are available at private nursery businesses. In fact, in Clackamas County we have some of the biggest nurseries in the state and region that specialize in producing forest tree seedlings. You need to know what tree species you are interested in purchasing, the seed zone or geographic area you will be planting if you are planting a forest, and what you want for size and quality of the plant you will be purchasing.
Extension has an excellent publication, Buying Quality Seedlings (EC 1196). Contact the Extension office for a copy. Also Extension has a Nursery Seedling List that is available at the same address or click on the link.
Q:) I want to get my soil tested. Where do I take my sample? How do I get my soil tested?
A:) Extension has a brief publication titled, Taking a Soil Sample (EC 628) that is available at the Extension office. Also, we have a list of laboratories in the state and region that do soil testing. Stop at the Extension office for a copy or call to have these items mailed to you. Click on Lab lists for a link to the soil test lab information.
Q:) I need to find out about taxes related to my forest property and timber harvest. Who do I contact and what do I need to know?
A:) Extension has several publications that address topics of forest property and income taxation. Take a look at the Extension Publications Catalogue for selected titles in the Forestry Business Management section. Also, personal tax assistance can be obtained from the Clackamas County Assessor's office (property tax information) and the Oregon Department of Revenue (for timber harvest tax information). Contact Extension for referrals.
Q:) My Christmas trees are starting to look sick and some are dying. What do I do?
A:) Trees can look sick and die for a variety of reasons. There are several ways Extension can help. Try a digital photo and email. Or, call the Extension office and talk to the Extension Forestry Agent. If a phone visit doesn't solve the problem, you may want to bring a sample into the office that shows the extent of damage in the field. Finally, the situation may require a farm visit by the Extension Agent.
Q:) Do you have anyone that will come to my property and give me advice about thinning, logging, etc?
A:) The Extension Forestry program in Clackamas County has about 40 active trained Master Woodland Manager volunteers who are able to make farm visits to provide educational information about a wide variety of forest management topics. They won't do work for you nor will they make decisions for you. But, they can point you in the direction of the help you need. Contact the Extension office for a Master Woodland Manager who can help.
Q:) I am considering buying property with timber on it. Could someone at your office advise me?
A:) Again, we certainly have resources to assist you with a decision about a property from the soils and suitability for growing trees, to the kind of trees and opportunities for management. However, if you need an "advisor", then you should hire a private forestry consultant for that type of assistance.
Q:) I would like to sell my Christmas trees. Who do I contact?
A:) All serious Christmas tree growers should be members of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. That organization has several important resources for their members that could help you be successful selling your trees. Examples include: a "Buy-Sell Directory", the annual Tree Fair and its "Buy-Sell" exchange center, classes and opportunities to network with other growers and tree buyers at their meetings.
Also, in Clackamas County there is a group called the Clackamas Christmas Tree Marketing Association that is open to anyone interested in joining. Members are growers who jointly advertise their product for sale and work with each other to fill orders as much as possible.
Q:) The large fir (pine, cedar) in my backyard is looking sick and seems to be dying. I don't want to lose it. What can I do?
A:) Our Master Gardeners address backyard and landscape tree questions. Contact them at the Extension Office. They manage a public clinic for gardening and landscaping questions Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 am to noon and from 1:00 to 4:00 pm (closed for lunch: noon-1:00 pm). They may be able to diagnose your problem or direct you to other assistance.