Picking a tree

Man loading Christmas tree onto car roof
Man loading Christmas tree onto car roof

Check measurements, freshness when selecting a Christmas tree

REED CITY — With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, it’s time to switch gears and focus on tinsel, sparkling lights and of course, Christmas trees.

While many people put emphasis on what goes underneath the evergreen, it’s worth taking a little bit of time to make sure the right, quality tree ends up in the home.

Personal preference for the type of tree is usually the first thing people think about, explained Dick Duddles, owner of Duddles Tree Farm north of Reed City.

“Scotch Pine was our bread and butter for many years, but now people like all different types of trees such as Blue Spruce, Fraser Fir and Douglas Fir,” Duddles said. “Some people do still prefer Scotch Pine and those definitely last the longest.”

Duddles added it’s important to look for a good, fresh tree.

The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) recommends doing a branch/needle test to see how fresh a pre-cut tree is before buying it. When Christmas tree shopping, a customer may want to run a branch through their enclosed hand — the needles should not come off easily. Also, bend the outer branches, which should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.

Consumers also should look for other indicators of dryness or deterioration. These indicators may include: excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor, needle pliability and wrinkled bark. A good rule-of-thumb is, when in doubt about the freshness of a tree, select another one.

Before heading to pick out a Christmas tree, the NCTA recommends shoppers know both the height and width of the area of the room where the tree will be displayed. Most trees on tree farms are trimmed to an 80 percent taper, so a tree that’s 10 feet tall will be eight feet wide at the bottom. A tree that will fit in the room vertically may be entirely too big horizontally.

It’s also important to check the trunk of a tree before making a purchase. Check the trunk to be sure it is sufficiently straight. Keep in mind pines will usually have, at least, some crook in their trunks. Also check the tree has a sufficiently long handle to accommodate your stand.

“People need to remember to buy one that fits the house and stand,” Duddles said. “Many times they buy a big tree, but don’t get the right stand. If you get a nice, big tree you need a stand that’s strong enough to hold it.”

Christmas tree customers should make sure to bring an appropriate vehicle and supplies to get their tree home.

“Many times people will go out to the field, pick a tree and get it on the vehicle, but they have nothing to hold it down so their teenage daughter is hanging out the window hanging on to the tree,” Duddles laughed. “Make sure you bring things to secure the tree.”