BIBLE HILL, N.S.
New advances in Christmas tree innovation and technology could help increase export percentages and economic growth in Nova Scotia.
The successful development and commercial licensing of a new Christmas tree that will last longer and ship earlier was announced Thursday morning at Dalhousie’s Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill, and is set to completely change the province’s Christmas tree industry.
“These new trees will stay fresh longer, which will increase marketability and the potential for exporting,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development.
“We export more than 3 million trees annually, so imagine the potential that exists with an additional 2 million tree in demand right now.”
The new SMART Balsam Fir tree, which was developed by Dr. Rajasekaran Lada and his research team at Dalhousie’s Christmas Tree Research Centre, will last 55 days longer than the average Christmas tree before it begins to lose its needles.
“The extra time length they stay healthy allows us to ship them earlier and further,” said Bill Casey, MP for Cumberland-Colchester.
“We ship these trees all over, to Venezuela, Brazil, and all over the United States. These new trees will help us take advantage of that 2 million tree open market that we haven’t been able to meet yet.”
Alongside the new tree, Lada and his team are also working on a delaying agent or spray, as well as a protocol for post-harvest storage and transport.
Lada began looking into Christmas trees and needle retention after a farmer walked into his office nine year ago with two photos of his trees that were refused during shipment due to needle loss.
“It became clear to me that if we did not fix the needle loss problem, the industry would lose its reputation,” said Lada.
“We may have lost the Christmas tree and greenery industry here, which is a significant contributor for the bio-economy for the region.”
Through years of research and scientific advancements, Lada’s new tree will last long enough to be shipped around the world twice before needle loss becomes a problem, he said.
The increased lifespan and export potentials of the new Smart Christmas tree will not only help the Christmas tree sector be more efficient and innovative, but will also have an economic effect as well.
“This is a really important sector of the economy for not only Nova Scotia, but for Atlantic Canada and Canada as well,” said Bains.
“What we are seeing in the Christmas tree sector is so much growth and export potential. This creates more opportunities for the local economy and more jobs locally and regionally.
“The product quality name recognition is high for Canadian Christmas trees, especially for Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada, so we want to utilize that brand and take advantage of it.”