A wide diversity of topics and presentations was in store for the Christmas tree and Christmas craft producers attending Goderie’s 9th annual Open House near Johnstown, NY, where 33 tree farms were represented.
Christmas tree farmer Jim Rockis with Reliable Source in Morgantown, WV, who also serves on the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, spoke to the group on how money is being spent on education, promotion and research.
“The Christmas Tree Promotion Board is a national research and promotion program whose mission is to share the benefits of fresh Christmas trees with consumers through promotion and public relations, while engaging in research to better serve our customers and growers,” Rockis said.
Rockis has been in the Christmas tree, seed and transplant business for many years and he also spoke to attendees about growing bare root transplants.
Ned Chapman of Sunnyside Gardens in Saratoga, NY discussed his success with fall planting of evergreen plugs.
“This practice is relatively new in the Northeast,” said Pete Goderie, past president of the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of NY, Inc. “But it has the potential to extend the planting season in the spring and fall.”
Feedback on fall planting was presented by Bruce Wilbert of Balsam Acres, West Leyden, NY and Doug Eaton, Bob’s Trees of Galway, NY, and Goderie, who had all planted 500 tree test plots last September.
Greg Smith from New York Life spoke to attendees about estate planning and transitioning farms to the next generation, which many growers are dealing with at this time.
“The median age of this group of tree farmers is around 65,” commented Goderie. “We are losing more growers every year.” Goderie said there is a shortage of younger producers getting into the Christmas tree production business. “I believe this is true of all agricultural businesses across the board.”
Dr. Elizabeth Lamb, NYS Integrated Pest Management Program, presented information on Christmas tree pests including the White Pine Weevil and the Douglas Fir Needle Midge. Lamb conducted a walking tour and explained to attendees on scouting techniques for pests and disease, freeze damage and root borne disease.
The group also examined a Turkish fir test plot and a 2015 fall planting test plot from transplants provided by Sunnyside Gardens.
Lamb commented that Christmas tree growers were the first to note differences in trees relating to climate change. “There is a root disease of conifers, Phytophthora, which moves with soil water, and Fraser fir, which has been increasing in use as a Christmas tree, is susceptible – excess water stresses the roots, the disease can more easily infect stressed roots, the trees die,” stated Lamb. “There is enough Phytophthora around that growers are looking at alternative tree species like Turkish fir because it is supposed to tolerate wet soils with Phytophthora better.”
In addition to the informative presentations provided at the event, four classes instructing wreath and kissing ball making, construction of a horse head wreath, bow making and decorating for marketing purposes were also included. About 75 people took advantage of the programs.
Goderie’s Tree Farm is a small family owned tree farm and nursery.