Did you know that Oregon is the largest producer of Christmas trees in the United States? It’s not surprising, considering that 65,000 acres across Benton, Clackamas, Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties are dedicated tree farms. This year alone, 7.5 million trees will be harvested, with the most popular being Douglas fir, noble fir, grand fir, Fraser fir, and scotch pine. That’s a lot of fragrant evergreens to decorate!
Estacada is the self-proclaimed Christmas Tree Capital of the World, but you can find a choose-n-cut tree farm in just about every city. There’s nothing like going directly to the farm and cutting down your own tree (kind of like visiting a country pumpkin patch for Halloween instead of buying at a grocery store). You won’t find anything fresher, and you can pick just the right size- from tabletop versions to 10 footers. A leisurely drive through the scenic countryside is always pleasant, plus many larger tree farms offer a festive atmosphere of music, hot chocolate, cookies, petting zoos, and even gift shops. Make a family day of it!
Christmas trees also provide a plethora of benefits to the environment, especially the significant amounts of oxygen they release into the environment while absorbing carbon dioxide (it’s estimated that the average conifer absorbs one ton of carbon over 60 years!). Trees also protect soil from erosion and provide refuge for wildlife. Pacific Northwest Christmas trees are grown on sustainable farms, many times in soil that won’t support other crops. And aren’t rows and rows of trees just plain old pretty to look at?
Once you get your Christmas tree home, follow these tips to keep it fresh:
• Make a fresh cut on the butt to open the pores that have been clogged by sap. Cut off at least one half inch. The fresh-cut surface should be creamy-white, not yellow or brown. If you do not make a fresh cut, the tree will not be able to drink water. Even if holes are drilled to accommodate a pin-type stand, a fresh cut also should be made on the butt.
• After the cut is made, put the tree in water as soon as possible. The longer the time between when the tree is given a fresh cut and when it is put in water, the less ability the tree has to absorb water.
• Place tree in a sturdy stand that will hold at least one gallon of water. An average Christmas tree may consume between a quart and a gallon of water per day. If the water level drops below the cut end of the trunk, a seal will form and no more water will be absorbed, so be sure to water daily!
• After Christmas, before the tree dries out, remove it from your house and recycle. Call your county recycling center or disposal service for information on local chipping and composting.
‘Tis the season to visit a choose-n-cut Christmas tree farm, so download a current Christmas tree farm guide produced by the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. Guides available for both Oregon and Washington farms. Click here for more ideas on what to see and do while in Mt. Hood Territory. And if you still need gifts for underneath your tree, click here to save time and money by shopping online.