Woodward, Okla. —
Did you know that a typical Oklahoma-grown Christmas tree removes a ton of carbon dioxide from the air during its lifetime?
According to the Oklahoma Forestry Services that is just one of many benefits of choosing to use a live evergreen for your Christmas tree.
The following are additional benefits of having a real tree, according to Forestry Services:
- They can be recycled into mulch to use in landscaping and gardening, or chipped for use in playground material, on hiking trails, and for paths and walkways.
- Two or three seedlings are planted in the place of every tree harvested.
- There are approximately 150 acres in production for growing Christmas trees in Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry said each acre provides daily oxygen requirements for 18 persons.
State Forester George Geissler said that real Christmas trees can even continue to benefit the environment even after they've been cut and the holiday season is over.
Geissler says whole trees can be sunk in a lake or pond to improve the fishing habitat, or placed in a backyard to be decorated with peanut butter or bird seed pine cones to attract feathered residents.
Along with the environmental benefits of a real tree, Geissler said he also recommends real Christmas trees because of the economic benefits it provides to Oklahoma growers, something which artificial trees can't provide.
According to ODAFF, some 85 percent of the artificial trees are imported from China.
There are some 20 Christmas tree farms across Oklahoma where residents can choose and cut their own trees for the holiday season, Geissler said.
Last year, those 20 Oklahoma Christmas tree farms sold about 7,000 trees, valued at $40 to $50 each, he said. This meant some $300,000 to $400,000 being pumped back into the economy across the state in 2011.
MORE ABOUT REAL CHRISTMAS TREES
The state forester said that real trees can be just as easy to care for as artificial trees, they just need the right amount of water.
He said it is best to place the tree in water as soon as possible and be sure the water in the tree stand is adequate to cover the tree's base.
If it's been 3 or more hours since the original cut, he said to trim an additional half-inch off the base of the tree trunk so that it can absorb the water better.
"Check the water in the stand often, at least once a day," Geissler said. "A fresh tree might use up to a gallon in a day."
And just like with artificial trees, certain safety precautions must be taken to avoid a Christmas tree fire.
"Be careful with lights," Geissler said. "Use lights, like mini-lights, that produce smaller amounts of heat. And if you're looking at installing a set that's maybe a few years old, check for worn sections and replace them if you find them."
Also be sure to keep trees away from heat sources such as fireplaces, heating vents and space heaters, he said.
Geissler reminded Oklahoma tree buyers that additional care information may be found at www.forestry.ok.gov/xtree-care.