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Agriculture Secretary Cuts Down First Official Christmas Tree of the Season

For Immediate Release: December 4, 2002


Hope Gruzlovic




BETHLEHEM TWP . - Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today helped usher in the Christmas tree-selling season in New Jersey by cutting down a fir tree at a prize-winning Hunterdon County farm.

Looking for a Tree"Hunting for a fresh Christmas tree is a time-honored tradition for many New Jersey families," Kuperus said. "Nothing compares to the look and smell of a fresh-cut Christmas tree grown right here in the Garden State."

Secretary Kuperus cut down the Concolor fir tree at Black Oak Farm in Bethlehem Township, Hunterdon County. Farm owner Robert Housedorf was this year's winner of the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers' Association's annual competition for the best Christmas tree grown in the state.

Housedorf, 71, has grown Christmas trees on the nine-acre farm since 1958. This is the second time in fewer than 10 years he won the contest's best-in-show award.

Black Oak Farm will donate the tree cut down by Secretary Kuperus to the Bethlehem Township Senior Citizens Association.

New Jersey is home to nearly 100 Christmas tree farms that account for approximately 1,800 acres of the state's open space and generate approximately $2 million in annual sales, according to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture. In addition, dozens of smaller farms that are not counted in the U.S. Census are located throughout the state.

The New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers' Association is a state organization of growers, professionals and industry leaders dedicated to the promotion and marketing of Christmas trees and related products. It was organized in 1950 and has 200 members throughout New Jersey.

Attached are recommendations from the Association on selecting and caring for Christmas trees.
The New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers' Association suggests the following when selecting and caring for your Christmas tree:

  • Dress accordingly when shopping for that perfect tree. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes or boots for walking.
  • Select a tree that best fits your needs. Consider your ceiling height as well as the weight of your ornaments when determining the size and type of tree you choose. Remember that in the field, the sky is the ceiling, making trees appear smaller than they actually are.
  • Do a freshness test. Gently grasp a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pull it toward you. Very few needles should come off. Shake or bounce the tree on its stump. An excessive amount of green needles shouldn't fall to the ground. Some loss of interior brown needles is normal. Needle retention is excellent on all pines, including Austrian, Scotch, Mexican border and white, and on Douglas firs. Colorado blue spruce is very good for needle retention. Norway and white spruce hold their needles moderately well.
  • If you're not going to decorate your tree right away, place it in a container of water and store the tree in a cool, shaded area, sheltered from the wind, such as in a garage.
  • Before you bring your tree into the house, cut an inch from the stump. The fresh cut enables the tree to more readily take in water.
  • Place the tree in a tree stand filled with one quart of water for every inch in diameter of the tree trunk. The average six-foot tree has a trunk with a four-inch diameter, meaning the tree stand should hold one gallon of water.
  • Always keep the tree stand filled with water. Otherwise, a seal of dried sap will form over the cut stump and prevent the tree from absorbing any water. Fresh-cut trees absorb a pint to a quart of water each day. Check the water level daily and always keep it above the cut end of the tree.
  • Keep your tree away from heat and draft sources like fireplaces, radiators and television sets. Be sure your light cords and connections are in good working order. Be sure to unplug lights before you go to bed or leave the house.

To locate a choose-and-cut farm near you, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov. For a history of the Christmas tree tradition, visit the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers' Association's website at www.njchristmastrees.org or the National Christmas Tree Association's website at www.realchristmastrees.org.