The Value of Christmas Trees

"...there is no reason why the joy associated with the Christmas evergreen may not be a means of arousing in the minds of children an appreciation of the beauty and usefulness of trees; and keen appreciation of the beauty and usefulness of trees is a long stop toward the will to plant and care for them (Arthur Sowder, US Forest Service, 1949)."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting Started

I've been working with Christmas tree IPM in western North Carolina for more than 20 years. As Extension Specialist with North Carolina State University, I've given a lot of talks, taught a lot of folks to scout, written articles and fact sheets, conducted demonstrations, surveyed growers, done field surveys of pests, predators, stream insects below tree farms and even rodents in tree fields -- all the things you're supposed to do to learn better ways of controlling pests and helping growers do a better job.

These twenty years have seen a lot of changes in the Christmas tree industry. I'm probably prejudiced, but I think our North Carolina growers do better than anyone other growers in the country with IPM in Christmas trees. They are leaving more ground covers around their trees, have reduced pesticide use tremendously through the years, and really try to grow a good tree in a manner that's safe for the environment and safe for their workers.

What's exciting is that there's more to learn all the time. Every year I and the County Extension Agents and Technicians I work with make new discoverys that can help growers do an even better job.

But increasingly, I'm finding it hard to get the word out. There is so much information and it changes from year to year. Growers can't make every meeting. Everyone has too little time and too much to keep up with.

That's why I'm starting this blog. I want to get the word out in a timely manner to my audiences -- which include County Agents, growers and even the public -- and I thought a blog would be a more informal way to do that. I plan on making posts that starts out with a summary for a quick overview for those that don't have a lot of time, and then a longer version that includes all the details. I hope by the end of 2010 to have a record of what's been happening in Fraser fir IPM that will help everyone keep up-to-date.

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