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)."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Well Do Scale Infested Trees Hold Their Needles?

If a tree is infested with scales, will it cause the needles to shed prematurely? Last year I looked quite a bit at this issue, but without a lot of success. Here are links to the previous posts in case you are interested in following this story: 1. Setting up the study; 2. The results. The big problem with last year's study was that the room where I kept the shoots got way too hot, and there were many branches where the needles shattered. This isn't how Fraser fir normally behaves when cut.

So this year I'm trying again. Yesterday Jeff Vance helped me  collect some scale infested branches. I will be comparing needle shed on these to branches from uninfested trees in the same field. We also collected some heavily infested branches from a second field just to see if they fared worse.

I will be monitoring needle shed on this year and last year's growth. Each branch is in its own water container, with the 3-year-old wood in the water. The study is set up at my house so I can keep an eye on them better. I noticed this morning that they are already taking up water!

Small studies like this allow us to look at this issue with a great deal of detail under controlled conditions. But I'm also very interested in hearing your observations. Are you finding that needles shed worse in scale infested trees? If you have any observations, please let me know. Some questions I would like to ask are these:

  • Were the trees heavily or lightly infested? 
  • Are you selling trees in northern or southern markets?
  • Do you see a difference in performance between foliage in wreaths and trees?
Send me an email at:

As always, let's learn together as we try to live with this new pest.