DOVER – Families searching for fresh Delaware-grown Christmas trees don’t have to go very far to find the perfect holiday centerpiece this year. The Delaware Fresh mobile app now features more than 30 farms that sell the First State’s holiday firs, spruces and pines, including updated hours and shopping information, the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced.
“Picking the perfect fresh locally-grown Christmas tree is a great start to the winter holiday season,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “Families can enjoy a hands-on farm experience picking just the right tree. They’re guaranteed to get the freshest tree possible and support our homegrown tree farms at the same time.”
Most holiday trees are grown as a specialized crop on farmland, with particular varieties selected for attractive foliage or other special features. In Delaware, it usually takes seven to 10 years to grow a thriving 7-foot-tall Christmas tree.
“This is our busiest season – and our favorite time of the year – but tree farmers work hard year-round to care for and nurture our trees,” said Paul Schreppler of Fir Tree Acres, Magnolia, president of the Delaware Christmas Tree Growers Association. “Throughout the spring and summer growing season, our members are busy weeding and mowing, sometimes even watering the trees. Then the trimming begins so the trees are shaped to look like real Christmas trees – just what our customers are looking for, real fresh-cut Christmas trees.”
The Delaware Fresh app is available free for download on both Android and iPhone platforms at http://delaware.gov/apps/. A list of Delaware Christmas tree growers is also available at the Department of Agriculture’s website, dda.delaware.gov.
To pick the right tree, examine it carefully, looking out for these details:
>> The shape and size of a tree will depend on where you plan to place it and the height of the ceiling in your home. Some people want a more slender tree like a fir, while others like a larger, fuller tree like a spruce, and still others prefer a fuller, bushier tree like a pine.
>> Although most people prefer a well-rounded and shapely tree, you may find it more practical and economical to buy one that is somewhat flat or sparsely branched in one side, so that it fits into a corner or against a wall.
>> While “choose-and-cut” purchasers gain in popularity, families that buy their trees from retail lots can also check for freshness. They can test cut trees by bending needles to check resilience (if it springs back into position, the tree is fresh); bumping the base of the tree on the ground (if the needles don’t fall, the tree is fresh); and feeling the bottom of the trunk (if sappy and moist, the tree is fresh).
When the tree is home, families still need to care for it to make it stay fresh throughout the season:
>> Keep a cut tree in a cool, shaded area, sheltered from wind, with the trunk in a bucket of water until you are ready for set up.
>> Just before putting a cut tree into its stand, cut an inch or two off the butt end. This fresh cut will allow the tree to more readily take up water once it is moved inside.
>> Fresh trees take up water at a very fast rate. You should check the water level two hours after setting up the tree. Then, check the water level at least once daily to see that it is above the bottom of the tree’s trunk. It is not uncommon for trees to take up a quart or more of water daily.
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