Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Common Questions

Lots of people went out this past weekend to get their special tree for this year and begin decorating. It's such a great tradition! From the un-scientific poll we conducted with about 75 retail locations, it seems tree sales were brisk, at least at choose and cut farms. You can see some of the quotes here.

Hey! My tree got here yesterday! Woohoo! So here's what it looked like just last week at The Rocks Tree Farm in New Hampshire where it was planted and grown.

Now here it is on my front porch after I ordered it online last week and it was harvested, boxed up and shipped. You can read earlier posts to follow the whole story.

I can't wait until this weekend when I have free time to put the tree up and decorate! Stay tuned, I can video some of that.

OK, on to some common questions. Obviously we've edited out the email address and full name of people who send in questions, but the questions and answers are just as they are.

From: l_nettesheim
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:30 PM
To: info@realchristmastrees.org
Subject: conflicting information

On my lunch today, I researched several web pages, and found that just as many comments that both recommend AND dispel the practice of 'drilling holes' in the trunk to increase water uptake for my christmas tree.

Can you settle the debate for me?

Yes, I can. It doesn’t really help. Here’s the scientific explanation.

The cambium is a thin layer of living cells just beneath the bark. When the cambial cells divide, they produce bark to the outside, and xylem (wood) to the inside. Technically, the cambium is only a few layers of cells in thickness. There are two types of xylem (wood): sapwood and heartwood. The sapwood normally makes up a zone of annual growth rings just beneath the bark. Sapwood is efficient in transporting water. At some point -- varies by species -- the sapwood becomes heartwood, and dies. This is easy to see in many species, e.g., white oak has a tan sapwood; yellow-poplar has a green sapwood; redwood has red sapwood. One characteristic of most heartwood is extractives -- chemicals deposited into the cells before they die. One classic example is "fat pine" or "heart pine", the heartwood of longleaf pine. It is very dense and oily with a nice fragrance. This heartwood is impervious to water, very resistant to decay, and difficult to glue. The primary purpose of heartwood is support and strength for the stem.

Normally, Christmas trees are not grown to an age where heartwood forms. Consequently, all the wood in the trunk is sapwood, which can transport water. Thus, the available wood to take up water is essentially the cross-sectional area of the wood in the stem. If you drill a small hole in the center of the trunk, it represents only a small fraction of the cross-sectional area on a typical tree with a trunk diameter of say 4 or 5 inches. Therefore the water uptake would be little affected. Further, if the depth of water in the stand is sufficient to reach the upper end of the hole, there is essentially no reduction in the area available for water uptake.

From: Amanda
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2010 7:32 AM
To: info@realchristmastrees.org
Subject: blog question about my Christmas Tree

We got a 12 foot tree yesterday at a local lot. They put a fresh cut at bottom when we got it and we had it home and in the tree stand in water within about 3 hours. I just checked this morning and it looks like the tree is not drinking much water. The water is only about a 1/4 inch lower than when I filled it. Our trees usually drink a lot more over night. Is it ok or do we need a fresh cut?

The rate of water absorption will vary throughout the time it is displayed. Some days it will absorb a lot, some days not so much. This is normal. It can take some time for the plant to come out of a state of dormancy. Just keep the stand filled with water because it can absorb A LOT of water in a short period of time once it starts.

From: Janelle
Sent: Thursday, November 25, 2010 8:16 PM
To: info@realchristmastrees.org
Subject: Christmas Tree Question

This year will be my first tree with my new family. Obviously, I've had trees in the past when I was younger, but I never experienced something like this before. My tree is making a clicking noise. I heard it could be the sap, settling, cracks in the bark or even pine beetles or some other sort of bug infestation. It's almost constantly clicking/crackling with or without the lights on. Do you have any sort of insight on what this most likely is?? No one seems to have a definite answer even though this seems to be fairly common.

I had that question a couple years ago. I asked some of the plant pathologists and they said it was all of the tree’s plant tissue warming, softening and absorbing moisture. They said it was normal and wouldn’t impact the needle retention or moisture uptake of the tree.

From: Al Jr.
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2010 6:16 PM
To: info@realchristmastrees.org
Subject: bleach

hi NCTA i have a question that i have always wondered about.

why do some people put bleach in christmas trees? what exactly does it do?

I can’t speak to reasons people would have to do that, I just know that the scientists recommend against it. It does nothing beneficial for the tree and can actually kill plant tissue.

Keep the questions coming. More to come later this week.

No comments: