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How to test Christmas trees for freshness

LSU AgCenter News -   Dec 01, 2011

In the coming weeks many families will conduct their annual and traditional hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. Satisfaction with a "real" Christmas tree starts with the right selection and continues with proper care throughout the holiday season. By following certain steps, you can keep the tree fresh and safe for enjoyment throughout the holidays.

When looking for the perfect tree for decorating, look for a tree that is clean, healthy, well-shaped and straight near the bottom. It should have pliable needles, a strong fragrance and good color. A good test for freshness is to pull some of the needles on a branch. If they adhere to the branch rather than come out easily, then the tree is fresh. Another test is to shake or bounce the tree to see if the needles are firmly attached. If only a few needles drop, the tree is fresh.

Prior to placing your tree in the holding stand, cut the butt of the tree at a point just above the original cut. This opens the pores and aids in absorption of water.

Since water plays a crucial role in keeping your cut tree fresh, place the butt end in water as soon as possible.

It is important to keep the tree in water as some trees may absorb as much as a quart a day.

Once set up and decorated, be sure to maintain water in the bowl of the holding stand daily as the tree will continue to absorb water in order to remain fresh and attractive.

For those who want to combine buying a tree with a memorable day for the family in the outdoors, visit a Christmas tree farm that lets you choose and cut your own.

Local Extension offices of the LSU AgCenter in St. Charles Parish (985-785-4473) and in St. John Parish (985-497-3261) can assist with a list of local growers.

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