Christmas Tree Care Calendar
Christmas Tree Care Calendar
- Confirm seedling supply and timeline with nursery
- Machinery maintenance and parts supply
- Basal prune trees that are three years old. (Four reasons to do this: a) To create a handle for the tree stand when harvested, b) To make it easier to manage weeds and/or apply herbicide without contacting foliage, c) To increase air flow in the plantation, which reduces the incidence of fungal infections, d) Basal-pruned trees are more appealing to the public and easier for customers to cut with a saw. Basal pruning in winter is preferable to spring or summer basal pruning as it reduces the potential for insects or diseases to have a portal to the tree).
- Spray dormant oil (no precipitation or frost for at least one day afterwards)
- Adjust pH based on a soil test. (Coastal areas tend to be acidic, requiring lime)
- Soil preparation once field is dry enough
- Seedlings arrive
- Line out field and plant seedlings. Ensure sufficient depth and check for j-root. Planting may be delayed in areas with a high water table.
- Fertilize established plantations. Do not use fertilizer on newly-planted seedlings unless directed by a professional (Roots tend to burn easily)
- Weed plantation or apply a recommended herbicide. Use a guard to eliminate contact with foliage.
- Apply Altus insecticide if you see signs of BWA in your plantation (especially in Subalpine fir and Fraser fir). Altus has recently been approved by Agriculture Canada (2020)
- Monitor new growth on trees for fungal infections, rusts or insects such as aphids and midges.
- Apply Daconil on Douglas fir (to prevent needle cast in the fall/winter) and on Noble fir (to protect against interior needle blight). Repeat application in two to three weeks. The active ingredient in Daconil is chlorothalonil. Incidentally, since Daconil is a fungicide, it is also effective in controlling toadstools and mushrooms that infest lawns. It is licensed for this purpose as well.
- Weed control/mow inter-row
- Remove any cones forming on your conifers, especially in Fraser fir. It is easily done at this stage and it prevents an unsightly mess that shows up in the fall.
- Monitor trees for diseases, including aphids & mites (you’ll need a magnifying glass for this last one)
- Second application of Daconil on Douglas and Noble.
- Second application of fertilizer (slow release)
- Eliminate alternating hosts for rusts (esp. bracken fern and cottonwood)
- Weed control
- Monitor tree health including irrigation needs & insects. Treat accordingly
- Flag trees containing wasp nests. Identify nests in the ground for safety. (Use a different colour than the colour you use for tying up leaders. Point out these trees to anyone working in the field).
- Late July – begin shearing trees. (Note: some growers advocate waiting until September to leader-prune; others don’t)
- Continue with shearing
- Monitor trees for drought stress. Irrigate if necessary
- Attend the SWBCCTA Field Day and AGM
- Still a good month to shear
- Fall is a good time to take a soil sample for testing
- Firm up any wholesale tree sales or purchases
- Order seedlings from supplier
- Late September or early October is a good time to apply glyphosate to knock back competing grasses and especially a good time to combat blackberry vines growing in your trees
- Winterize machinery, especially anything with pumps
- Remove any physical hazards in your field before the public arrives: sharp machinery, holes, etc.
- Set up retail lot
- Cull out diseased trees, especially trees infected with BWA. Burn culls or remove from growing site. (Note: Some growers leave the culled Fraser fir with BWA on the ground for 2 weeks so that the insects die inside the tree before being moved. In any case, don’t drag or allow culls to contact unaffected trees)
- Sales and hospitality
- Enjoy some family time