Official ‘tree-picking’ season begins at area farms

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 23, 2001

Features Editor

Thanksgiving weekend has become a three-day nationwide shopping spree.

It’s also the biggest weekend for taking home a Christmas tree.

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No sooner than the turkey has been devoured, many families began the search for that perfect Christmas tree, usually either at a store or on a tree farm.

And, Jerry Stinson is glad to see them coming.

Stinson is the owner of Stinson’s Christmas Tree Farm on Highway 167 between Troy and Enterprise and he has seen his sales grow from about 30 trees 20 years ago to pushing 1,000 in recent years.

"We have experienced a lot of growth and we sell more trees every year," Stinson said. "Families make an event out of coming out and selecting and cutting their tree. It’s becoming a tradition with many of them."

Stinson’s Christmas tree farm will open at noon today and he expects a busy afternoon.

"The weekend after Thanksgiving is the busiest and the next weekend is usually just about as busy," he said. "People are buying trees earlier than they did a few years ago. Everyone used to buy their trees a couple of weeks before Christmas, but that’s no longer true."

Stinson attributed the early buying of Christmas trees to the fact that people are learning to take better care of their trees and, therefore, they last longer.

"The trick to keeping a tree fresh is to get it in water as soon as possible after it has been cut," Stinson said. "If it dries out, it can’t soak up the water it needs."

Stinson said it doesn’t make a lot of difference if the tree is put in a bucket of water overnight or right into the tree stand, as long as the stand has a reservoir.

"The point is to get the tree in water," he said. "If a tree goes for several hours without water, it is best to shave the bottom so the fresh wood will soak up water. The first days are crucial. Without a steady supply of water those first few days, the tree will not last."

Putting aspirin, Sprite and/or commercial products in the water to keep trees fresh might or might not work, Stinson said.

"I’ve heard about those things and the company I buy my trees from has a "tree life" product available," he said. "But, from my experience, warm water to soften the sap the first few days and frequent watering during the following days will keep a tree fresh just as long."

Stinson said trees should not be placed near heating vents, fireplaces or in unventilated rooms. "Heat will dry out a tree fast, especially if it doesn’t have sufficient water,"

he said. "Even with water, heat is very harmful."

The trees on Stinson’s farm are Leyland cypress and Virginia pines.

"The cypress trees are becoming popular because they hold their needles so well," he said. "Pines tend to shed more, but they smell like Christmas and some people put up with the needles for that reason."

Some of Stinson’s trees are colored with a water-based tint, which protects them from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun during the winter months. It also keeps them looking "nice and green" for Christmas.

"Some people like the trees that have been colored and others prefer the natural color," he said. "I have plenty of both and in all sizes –


three- and four- feet up to 15 feet.

The six- to seven- foot tree is the most popular although some people buy different size trees for different rooms of the house.

Stinson laid to rest any concerns about selecting trees from a local tree farm because of the recent drought. "Although we haven’t had rain in recent weeks, we had good rain in the summer,"

he said. "This drought period hit us about the time the trees were beginning to take in less water anyway, so I don’t think they have been hurt."

Stinson said he cut a tree Wednesday and it was strong and healthy. "I encourage anyone who wants to cut their own Christmas tree to do so," he said. "I think we have a good crop of trees that will stay fresh from now until Christmas."

Stinson’s Christmas tree farm is one of three in the area. Parker Pines is located off Highway 231, south of Brundidge. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a tree farm across from Wal-Mart on Highway 231.