TREE CARE

Tips for Handling Christmas Trees in Retail Stores

Quality Christmas trees can be made available to consumers only if proper handling procedures are followed during harvest, shipping, storage and display. The retail lot is a critical point in this process, where trees are often maintained in less than optimal conditions. However, by observing a few simple guidelines, the retailer can provide customers with fresher, more desirable trees.


Care and Handling Procedures

Heat, wind, and sunlight are the greatest enemies to maintaining freshness of cut Christmas trees. Any technique which increases the humidity of the air surrounding the trees will slow the rate of moisture loss, thereby maintaining freshness. Shading can also prevent “stringburn,” in which needles adjacent to the baling string turn brown. If permanent shade is not available, a burlap or shade cloth can be used to protect trees from sunlight and wind. However, any shade should be suspended above the trees and down the sides with at least a 2 feet of air space above and outside the trees to avoid over-heating. Misting trees at night to provide moisture can be beneficial. Retailers in warm climates sometimes store baled trees with their trunks in a pool of water, formed by lining wooden or dirt troughs with plastic or tarp. Trunks can also be placed in moist sawdust as a method to maintain moisture content of the trees. Piles of baled trees should not be soaked with water as mold and defoliation can occur, particularly in warm temperatures. For trees to adequately take up water, a fresh cut on the tree’s base may be necessary prior to storage or display. Trees should be handled carefully while being unloaded from trucks, placed in and out of storage, and delivered to customers. Walking on baled trees breaks limbs and crushes foliage. In freezing conditions, extra caution is needed as trees can become quite brittle. Displayed trees should not be sold on a “first in, first out” basis.

Information for Consumers

Several points should be emphasized by retailers to their customers: 1) a fresh cut of 1/2 to 1 inch should be made on the trunk prior to placing in water for display, 2) the trunk should not be allowed to get dirty or muddy, thereby interfering with water uptake, and 3) the tree should be displayed in a stand with sufficient water-holding capacity and the stand should be refilled each day. A general rule is that trees often require one quart of water per day for each inch of trunk diameter. Retailers should also remind customers that fresh Christmas trees, kept well-watered, are almost impossible to set afire, but to display trees away from heat and possible sources of ignition (stoves, fireplaces, etc.).

Questions?

Both growers and sellers of Christmas trees benefit if fresh, high-quality trees reach the consumers. If proper procedures are followed in handling, storage, and displaying, trees sold in retail stores will more likely than not be fresh. If you have any questions about caring for your trees, feel free to contact us!

Happy Retailing!

What do you do when your trunks split? Under certain conditions, a small percentage of trees may develop cracks. Read the PDF linked below to learn everything you need to know about dealing with split trunks.

When Trunks Split: What should you do? (Click to view PDF)