Christmas tree retailing in heat and strong winds. How to keep your trees fresher.

The Christmas tree retailing season in Southern California is often plagued with adverse weather conditions such as high temperatures and strong winds. These can transform your fresh and beautiful inventory of trees into a dried out pile of waste if left exposed. Although your Christmas trees arrive fresh, it is your job as the retailer to keep them that way. There are measures that can and should be taken by retailers to help keep them as fresh and salable as possible.

Storing

  • Store trees in an area that will provide good ventilation yet protect them from direct exposure if possible.
  • Stack them a few inches above ground, and in a crisscross fashion. This allows air to pass through the stack, preventing retention of heat within it. A cut Christmas tree is an organic material, and generates heat on it’s own as it decomposes.
  • If trees must be stored in an area that is in direct exposure to the elements, place shade cloth over them, and water them frequently. Although a tree absorbs moisture from it’s trunk and root system, the watering will help provide an evaporative cooling effect on them.

Prepping

  • Prep trees in an area that will provide good ventilation yet protect them from direct exposure if possible.
  • Make fresh cuts on all tree bases before standing, and keep the butts in water. Once moved to display area, they can be prepped for sale.
  • Keep trees baled after standing until moved to the display area. This will minimize their exposure to the elements.
  • If trees must be prepped in an area that is in direct exposure to the elements, install shade cloth at critical areas, to minimize exposure.

Displaying

  • If trees will be displayed in an area that is directly exposed to the elements, install shade cloth in critical areas, to minimize exposure to them.
  • Reduce the amount of trees in your display area. This will turn your displayed and exposed trees over faster, reducing the amount of time they are exposed to the elements.
  • Keep all tree butts in water.

Selling

Now that you have diligently kept you trees in a fresh condition,  your customers need to to keep them that way, and their house safe while there. We recommend providing them with a list of recommendations. We recommend that retailers make a fresh cut before turning them over to customers. Below is a list that has been prepared by the National Christmas Tree Association:

How to Care for Your Farm-Grown Christmas Tree

When a Christmas tree is cut, more than half its weight is water. With proper care, you can maintain the quality of your tree. Below are a number of tips on caring for your tree:

  • Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems.
  • To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.
  • Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
  • Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.
  • Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does NOT improve water uptake.
  • Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don’t bruise the cut surface or get it dirty. If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water.
  • The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.
  • Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.
  • Keep trees away from major sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
  • Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree.
  • Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.
  • Do not overload electrical circuits.
  • Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.
  • Monitor the tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is very dry, remove it from the house.
  • Visit the Tree Recycling page to find a recycling program near you.
  • Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.
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