Oklahoma-grown Christmas trees are a boon to the state's economy and ecosystem, foresters say.
“If you go to a lot of big box stores, those are going to be out-of-state trees,” Oklahoma Forestry Services Director George Geissler said.
“The biggest thing that we're trying to get people to recognize is that Oklahoma does produce local Christmas trees.”
More than 20 tree farms across the state offer a variety of evergreens, and Oklahoma Christmas Tree Association President John Knight said a freshly-cut tree typically sells for about $7 a foot. He said 20,000 to 25,000 fresh trees are sold each holiday season in Oklahoma.
“They're majestic. Some of these trees are just awesome. Walk into a home with a 10-foot Christmas tree and it will get your eye, I promise you,” Knight said.
“If you cut it fresh, it will last a lot longer. The trees will stay nice and supple as long as the moisture is moving through them.”
For Knight, the best part of a real Christmas tree is the fragrance.
“We have some trees that are so strong that you have to open the door at first to get used to it,” he said.
Oklahoma Forestry Services suggests putting cut trees into a stand with at least a half-gallon water storage capacity. Fresh trees can use up to a gallon of water per day and water levels should be checked regularly.
Foresters say lights with low heat should be used to reduce the drying of the tree, and decorative lights should be turned off when leaving the house or before going to bed.
A fresh tree should be kept away from heat and light sources such as fireplaces, heating vents and
Ways to recycle
After the holidays, there are several ways to recycle a fresh tree.
“Most choose-and-cut operations will receive the trees back if the owner wants to bring them back,” Knight said.
“It makes wonderful organic matter to make new trees with. We chop it up and pile it up for a few years and we start to spread it. Black gold is what they call it,” he said.
Knight said mulch from composted recycled trees is often given away by municipalities and tree farms.
“We just have so much of it and we like to treat our customers good. If someone needs mulch, we'd be happy to give it to them,” he said.
Some fishermen put dead trees in ponds as habitats for fish, Knight said. They can also be used as a backyard habitat for birds and squirrels by applying peanut butter and bird seed to the limbs and cones, the forestry service said.
“It's a natural thing. It's not a plastic tree. It's something that you're using for what it was designed. We always try to encourage people to go that route if they can,” Geissler said.
“It helps the state's economy too. We're all for it,” Geissler said.
See a map where Oklahoma's Christmas tree growers are: Oklahoma Forestry Services
Oklahoma Forestry Services
For a map of Oklahoma Christmas tree growers, go to www.forestry.ok.gov/xtree-growers.