Plenty of selection available on tree lots

Harry Sullivan
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TRURO - Don't have your tree yet?
No need to worry local Christmas tree suppliers say. Despite there being less than 10 days until Christmas, there are plenty of lots to choose from and the tree selections are still plentiful.
"Good supply," tree seller Steve Johnson said this week, while tending a lot in Bible Hill for Darrell Sandeson.
And while weekend sales tend to keep the sellers hopping, picking up a tree during the week may be a tad easier while the customer base is lower.
"The weekends (sales) are good," Johnson said.
Jamie Chisholm, of Chisholm and Son Christmas Trees in the Sobey's lot on Walker Street, said last Saturday's weather kept some shoppers at bay but sales are generally on average with last year.
"That stopped a lot of people from coming out," he said, of Saturday's cold and blustery conditions.
Prices are also consistent with last Christmas, with trees ranging anywhere from $10 to $50 depending on size.
According to information from the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia, the annual sale of balsam firs - the most preferred Christmas tree - is worth $72 million.
The industry also employs more than 7,000 seasonal and full-time workers.
But that does not mean the industry is free of challenges, according to Dr. Raj Lada, a plant stress physiologist at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC).
Competition from artificial trees, the U.S. economic downturn and needle drop all threaten the sustainability of the industry, he said. To help address such challenges, the NSAC has established the Atlantic Christmas Tree Research and Development Consortium, making it the Canadian centre for Christmas tree research.
"This major research initiative is studying, defining, isolating and improving the needle retention properties and overall quality of our Atlantic Canadian balsam fir Christmas tree and greenery business," Lada said.
Several balsam fir clones from various sources, including the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources Tree Breeding Center in Debert, have been screened over the past three years and identified for excellent needle retention qualities. Those trees have been grafted and set at a new balsam fir germplasm center and seed orchard, which will eventually serve as a global repository for balsam fir.
"Our research has already started shedding some new information on the genetic diversity in needle drop, the mechanisms, signalling process and potential technologies for control of needle drop," Lada said.

hsullivan@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Sobey's, Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia Atlantic Christmas Tree Research and Development Consortium Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources Tree Breeding Center

Geographic location: Bible Hill for Darrell Sandeson, Walker Street, U.S. Debert

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