We have a guest blog submitted this week by Richard Moore, President of the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) and his wife, Kay. Richard and Kay own and operate Moore Tree Farm in Groton, New York.
Above (l. to r.) are Franz Raith of Austria and President of The Christmas Tree Growers Council of Europe, Dick and Kay Moore, and Bernd Oelkers, of Germany, who hosted the meeting.
We recently returned from Hamburg, Germany where we attended the summer meeting of the Christmas Tree Growers Council of Europe (CTGCE) to discuss world wide plans for the 500th anniversary of the decorated Christmas Tree. The 500th anniversary plans call for highlighting, century by century, how trees were decorated from the 1500’s to the 21st century. Each century denotes changes from paper ornaments to hand painted works of art to today’s battery powered led displays.
The earliest recorded history of the decorated Christmas Tree is 1510 in the city of Riga in the northern European country of Latvia. According to their legend, the men of the Order of the Blackheads (a long-time merchant’s guild) decorated a tree with paper roses for the marketplace. The fir tree commemorated the Holy Child and the roses were a symbol of the Virgin Mary.
The Christmas Tree Growers Council of Europe is comprised of 13 member nations who represent a vast majority of the Christmas Trees grown in Europe. The two day summer meeting consisted of farm tours, nursery tours, and a ½ day business meeting. The Europeans prefer a more open, less dense tree since over 50% of the homes decorate their tree with real lighted candles. Nordman Fir accounts for upwards of 80% of the market and trees are planted on spacing’s as tight as 32” by 32”. By comparison, common spacing for trees on Christmas Tree farms here in the U.S. is 66” by 72”.
One particularly amazing thing we saw was specialized operator seated equipment that has a high degree of hydraulics; developed so that it can base prune, fertilize, spray, top shear and cut the trees for harvest…all in one machine. Jutek calls this their "portal tractor" to which all of the aforementioned devices connect. The Portal comes in many styles, both one and two row models, with or without cab, and optional spray out riggers to cover four rows at once.