65th Alice in Dairyland Rochelle Ripp

Nature has gotten a head start on decorating for the holidays with those beautiful snowflakes that are gracefully sprinkled on top of Wisconsin’s landscape this time of year.

As we prepare for the holiday season, remember to buy and decorate with another natural beauty – Wisconsin evergreens. Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands and more can spice up your home both indoors and outdoors. They can also be the perfect gift to give a friend, family member, neighbor, or bring to a holiday party.

Buying Wisconsin evergreen products supports our state’s Christmas tree farmers, harvesters and agribusinesses while keeping money in our communities and economy.

Celebrating the holiday season with a real Christmas tree is a long-standing tradition. In 1856, Franklin Pierce, our 14th President, brought the first Christmas tree to the White House. Many of us carry a similar tradition of going out to a Wisconsin Christmas tree farm with our families shortly after Thanksgiving as we search far and wide for the perfect tree for our homes.

Know that when you buy a real Wisconsin Christmas tree it has been farmed by hands that care. Wisconsin is home to more than 400 licensed Christmas tree farmers and 1,100 farms harvesting 950,440 trees annually.

Our state ranks fifth in number of trees cut and acres in production and is sixth in Christmas tree sales, contributing approximately $250 million to Wisconsin’s $59 billion economy.

Real Christmas trees are 100 percent biodegradable are grown sustainably and are a renewable resource. For every tree cut, two or three are grown in its place.

These trees are utilizing carbon dioxide, producing oxygen and can be recycled after the holiday season. Balsam fir, spruce and white pine are all native trees to the state and were originally harvested from the natural wild forest.

Below are a few tips from the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association for taking care of your real Christmas tree this year:

Temperature control – Keep trees away from heat sources (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption. The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.

Stand – As a general rule, stands should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter.

Fresh cut – If it has been more than 12 hours since harvest, remove a ¼-inch disk of wood from the base of the trunk before placing the tree in the stand.

Don’t cut the trunk at an angle or into a V-shape. It is more difficult for the tree to absorb water. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient at taking up water and should not be removed. Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake.

Water, water – Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Don’t bruise the cut surface of the trunk or get it dirty. Do not use additive in the water.

Check the stand daily to make sure the water level does not go below the base of the tree.

Light use – Choose lights that produce low or no heat, such as miniature or LED lights, to reduce drying of the tree. Inspect light sets prior to using them.

For more information or to find a Wisconsin Christmas tree farmer or retail location, visit realtree4me.com.

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