Local News

Christmas tree sales picking up

SEBRING - Manuel Lapuerta held a Fraser fir with his left hand and spun it, so his wife, Lucy, could check all around the tree.

Lucy was looking for a tree that was "nice and full."

Going back and forth between two trees at The Home Depot, it seemed they had it narrowed down to two.

Then Lucy wanted to compare a third tree, and Manuel went "ay yi yi."

The Sebring couple chose a 7-to-8 foot tree that will go in their living room close to the window, "so everybody can see it," Lucy said.

After a brisk weekend of sales, The Home Depot received a truck load of 600 trees Monday morning as shoppers stopped in the tent to find the right tree.

Jennifer Maitre of Sebring said she was looking for a 6-to-7 foot tree.

What makes a good Christmas tree?

"A full one," she said.

She always gets a real Christmas tree because the artificial trees are "fake" and purchased a 6-to-7 foot Fraser fir for a spot that is already picked out in her living room,

Jerry Makoski, of Lake Placid, and his wife, were just looking Monday.

"It's a little bit early for us yet," he said, while checking the Douglas and Fraser firs. Makoski said he will buy a tree in one week.

At the Severt's Tree Farm tent near the North Robbins Nursery on U.S. 27, Tony Oppold said he started out with 511 trees on Nov. 26.

After selling about 250 trees Friday through Sunday, he was counting his inventory and will likely order a shipment for later in the week.

He sold most of his small trees and had just a few of the largest trees, which top out at 14 feet. But, he had a good selection of the most popular 5-6 foot and 7-8 foot sizes.

It was slow Monday morning, but Oppold expected some business later in the afternoon and then another flurry of sales over the weekend.

He carries Fraser firs from North Carolina and Virginia.

The National Christmas Tree Association notes the following on three of the popular trees available in the area:

Fraser fir - Its branches turn slightly upward. They have good form and needle-retention. They are dark blue-green in color. They have a pleasant scent and excellent shipping characteristics.

Douglas fir - Has soft needles that are dark green to blue green in color and are approximately 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Its needles radiate in all directions from the branch. When crushed, these needles have a sweet fragrance. They are one of the top major Christmas tree species in the U.S.

Noble fir - Has needles that turn upward, exposing the lower branches. Known for its beauty, the noble fir has a long "keepability" and its stiff branches make it a good tree for heavy ornaments, as well as providing excellent greenery for wreaths and garland.

The Florida Forest Service, in its winter holiday safety tips, notes that one of the first things you can do to prevent Christmas tree fires is to pick the right tree.

Calin Ionita, senior forester with the Florida Forest Service, advises that when choosing a Christmas tree, it is important to buy a fresh tree. Cut an inch off the bottom or ask the vendor to do it for you. This new cut will allow water to be taken up.

Put your tree in water as soon as you get home and be sure to top-up daily, Ionita said. A fresh tree will drink about a pint a day for the first couple of days.

However, do not think the danger ends just because the holidays are over and the tree is down, the Florida Forest Service notes.

Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Melissa Yunas recommends getting to know the burn laws in your area before striking a match.

It is unsafe and illegal to burn wrapping paper and gift boxes, she said. Consider recycling instead of burning your Christmas trees in order to reduce the chances of sparking a wildfire. Christmas trees may be ground up for mulch or used to help stabilize sand dunes, build a structure for fish in a lake or pond or provide shelter for birds and other wildlife.

Contact your local Solid Waste Authority for recycling information.

For more information go to www.floridaforestservice.com.