The Elephant in the Christmas tree Field

Spraying, it is a word that brings to mind negative connotations for a number of people but for most farmers, even organic ones, it is a necessary practice.

Spring growth on a
Douglas fir Christmas tree.

Here in this photo we have some beautiful new growth on one of our established trees. This new growth is about two inches long and by mid July it will be anywhere from eight to twelve inches long. Sadly, fungus is one of the biggest vulnerabilities of this new growth and in Oregon where our trees love to grow, so does fungus.

We use a number of diverse field practices here at Santa and Sons Christmas Tress to combat fungus growth. Avoiding overcrowding between trees, as well as manual removal of ferns and other plants throughout the young trees allows for better airflow, helping to reducing the risk of fungus but not eliminating it. Which brings us to our next step in prevention, spraying.

We have already mentioned in a previous blog the use of our new Jacto automatic sprayers. We are currently using those sprayers on our Christmas tree fields to spray copper hydroxide to inhibit fungus growth. The product we are spraying is an Organic Materials Review Institute approved fungicide. We use this along with our other preventative measure before there is any sign of a problem. If trees end up succumbing to fungus there isn’t a quick fix or remedy to be had, and once they have a fungus it will spread fast causing it to loose it’s needles and have bare patches resulting in a tree that may not be saleable come Christmas.

Spraying copper hydroxide to protect new growth.

When we do need to spray here on our fields, we take all the precautions needed, and more. In this picture of a worker spraining you can see that he is suited up in protective gear. Don’t fear! This outfit, reminiscent of a beekeepers outfit, is more to protect his work clothes from staining. The sprayer, which has turned blue from the use of the copper spray, is an indicator of what this whole suit will look like by the end of the day. Our worker is also wearing a respirator mask to filter out any particulate that he could be inhaling.

In addition to making sure we are keeping our workers safe we also do everything we can to keep our environment and you safe while using this needed product. Luckily for us, our fields are located on upland hillsides and are more than a safe distance from waterways, the plants, and critters that inhabit them. As for this spray making it’s way into your home, all our Oregon rains take care of that. Months of rain thoroughly wash your tree of any residual copper hydroxide long before it is harvested and brought into your home.

Why are we talking about a topic that can put some people on edge? Because like so many other things in our day to day life, spraying is a lot less scary the more you know. Just because a farm sprays, does not inherently mean they hare harming the environment. Just the same as if a farm uses all approved organic techniques isn’t necessarily helping the environment. While organic Christmas tress may not be feasible currently, we do everything we can to maintain a holistic approach to farming. Hopefully we were able to teach you a little something today and if nothing else we are proud to share with you another aspect of the hard work that we put into each and every one of our Oregon grown Christmas trees.

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