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VIRGINIA VIRGINIA CHRISTMAS VIRGINIA News Journal for Virginia Grown Christmas Trees CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS TREE News by Journal for Virginia Christmas Trees Published the Virginia ChristmasGrown Tree Growers Association TREE TREE GROWERS GROWERS Published by the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association GROWERS ASSOCIATION Volume 2, Issue 4 Fall 2012 ASSOCIATION

ASSOCIATION Inside this Issue:

Inside this Issue: Inside Welcomethis New Issue: Officers

Capitol Christmas − 2 &A Directors -2 VCTGA Board − 3 Marketing Materials Presidentially Speaking- –23 Presidentially Speaking − 4 OrderMinutes Form - –3 6 Board ‘Angry Mob’ Derails VCTGA Board - 4- 7 Membership Minutes Promotion Program − 5 Meeting Highlights – 9- 5 Presidentially Speaking NCTA Position on National Updates – Steps forTree Change 5− 5 Checkoff10 Why Support National - 12 VCTGA Good Things 6 −6 Grant Progress Report

Trees for Member Troops – 14- 6 Neel Receives Awards Profile: Mt.Minutes RogersTall Fraser Fir Highlights 88 Tree Farm-Seed − Can Recipient the–Family Orchard 16 Farm Scholarship -9 Survive?- 17 −- 12 Sponsor Thanks! 9 Soil Nutrients Five Marketing Survey - 9– 20 NewMeeting Climatic Zones “Quick Fixes” Memories Wagoner - 10 VCTGA-atFred State Fair –− 12 21 Websites #1 Marketing − 14 Farming 14– 22 NewVirginia VAC Leadership Becoming a Fan Christmas Month - 14 VCTGA Tree 3ofrdFacebook Grant –−22 15 Mt.Annual RogersMeeting Seed Orchard - 15 & Tour Shearing Techniques Improve Photos Farm Marketing – 23Fir − 1715 for Fraser Becoming a “Fan” - 17 VA Farming Changes Marketing Materials for− 20 Good/Bad Tree? 18 VAC New Website Members – 24 − 20 National Updates - 10! 20 − 22 Virginia in – Top Order Form 25 4TREES License 22, 23 Trees For Troops 22 Member Profile: Valley− Star Trees For Troops − 22, 23 What’s “TIP” - 26 Farm &First Evergreen Tree Tree Cutting − 23 Contest Winners - 27 Farm 26 Real Tree- Promotions − 23

Volume 2, Issue Volume1, 2,Issue Issue 4 Volume 31

Fall2012 2012 Winter Fall 2011

Virginia Grand Champion Christmas TreeTree and and Wreath Winners Virginia Grand Champion Christmas Wreath Winners An eight foot tall Fraser fir tree grown by Rodney Richardson of Mt. Rogers Christmas Tree Farm in Whitetop, Virginia, was chosen Grand Champion by the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association (VCTGA) at the August convention. Richardson is no stranger to this title of Grand Champion. He and his late wife Cynthia previously presented the tree for the Governor’s Mansion in 2009, as well as the official state Christmas tree that graced the South Portico of the State Capitol that year. (Photo right) Rodney, with his daughter Hailey, son Riley, and Zada, a trained Search and Rescue dog. Cindy, his late wife, trained and worked with her but now she is just a smart pet.

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Alpha Nursery –5 Advertisers -7 −2 Bosch’s Countryview TNI Kelco Packaging Bosch’s Strathmeyer Forests -6 9 Nursery – 11 −− 5 Alpha Nursery Christmas Hill Tree Teck Cherokee Mfg- 11 – 13 − 7 Bosch’s Countryview Tree Teck − 7 Christmas Hill - 11 Tim Mitchell’s Nursery − 11 Cherokee Mfg. − 9 Yule Stand System – -1511 Riverside Enterprises Cherokee −13 AlphaMfg Nursery − 11 Strathmeyer Forests –−19 Alpha Nursery - 13 Tim Mitchell 13 Tim Mitchell’s Yule TeckEnterprises – 21Nursery Bosch’sTree Countryview Riverside − 15 Stand SystemMgt − 15 Carroll Resource – 21 - 16 Kelco − 15 Strathmeyer Forests Kelco – 21Nursery TimFlickinger’s Mitchell - 21− 19 − 21 Tree Teck − Knoll Riverside AdEnterprises - Fraser − 24 Cherokee Mfg -21 25– 22

Carroll Resource Fraser Knoll -Mgt 28 − 21 Kelco − 21 Riverside Enterprise − 22

Governor Bob McDonnell accepts the official state Christmas tree from Virginia and left) VCTGA’s Grand The Champion winner John Carroll on December 12 at the front of(Photo the governor’s mansion. Carroll’s in the wreath category is Sherrie and Carlos were the winners of the VCTGA Christmas Tree Contest at the VCTGA Annual Taylor of Severt’s Tree Farm in Elk Creek, Meeting in August and earned the honor of presenting the official tree this year. Virginia. Jocelyn Lampert also presented the official wreaths and Bill and Mary Apperson preThey will present wreaths to the First Lady in sented holly and evergreens for decorations.November (Additional photos to grace the next front page). doors of the Exec(Photos Courtesy of Michaele White, Governor’s Photography) utive Mansion. The Taylors used Fraser fir for

Growing a Greener Virginia Grown Christmas Tree

their winning design and also took the second place award in the tree contest.

Experience a Real Tree!

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 VCTGA VCTGA News Journal Winter–2012 News –Journal Winter 2012

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Bright RED and Vivid GREEN Polypropylene netting. Soft knitted, Designed to add Eye-catching color to your baled tree. Fits 18”, 20”, 23” and 26” balers. 1040 foot cardboard cartridges. 3 cartridges per bale

©2009 TNI Packaging, Inc - *The color design of the netting is a trademark of TNI Packaging, Inc US PAT REG NO 3,332,975

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VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Kathy Rasnic, Moose Apple

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Kathy Rasnic


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VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012


VCTGA Board Meeting Minutes ing would be on September 16. The Seed Orchard continues to be expanded and this year will be more competitive for selling tress.

VCTGA Board Meeting Wednesday, August 22, 2012 Best Western Inn, Waynesboro

7:00 p.m. Call to Order by President Virginia Carroll Approval of Minutes of previous meeting – It was moved to approve the June 18, 2012 Board conference call, seconded and passed.

REPORTS Financial Reports (conveyed prior to the meeting) Jeff Miller reviewed the financial reports that had been emailed to the Board prior to the meeting which included the Balance Sheet as of 8/20/12 compare to the same 2011 period and the 2012 P&L Actual vs. Budget as of 8/20/12. Grant status balances – Jeff reviewed a report of the income and expenses of the 2 current USDA Specialty Crop Grants through VDACS. The first grant will end at the end of October, but an extension to the end of the year will be made to utilize the balance of the funds for media promotion. 2013 Budget – Jeff requested the Board to review the current budget and make an recommendations for changes in the 2013 Budget. Membership update - Jocelyn Lampert presented an update on the current membership Mt. Rogers Report - Charlie Conner reported that their annual meet-

Virginia Carroll noted that at a meeting this summer with the Mt. Rogers group that they are interested in doing a Blog, having tree tags with the “Experience a Real Tree” and guides to handling media. News Journal - Jeff noted that he still needs more technical information for News Journal and articles from the Board. It was suggested that a copy of the Journal schedule be listed in the Journal. A motion was made that each VCTGA director would provide one article per year for the News Journal, seconded and passed. Holiday News Promotions/PR Promotional materials for members – Jocelyn requested that the VCTGA Marketing Manual be made available to members online as PDF files along with the meeting minutes, etc. She will provide Greg Lemmer with the info on CD.

Ideas 

More news releases through VDACS

Do a mock media interview at a future meeting

Have info available (fact sheets) for phone interviews during the season

National Organization report Sherrie Taylor Trees for Troops program will continue this year after reaching over 100,000 trees in December 2011. The Trees for Troops will be November 30 – December 2. The NCTA has “Share the Spirit” tree

tags available for tree lots for consumers to support the program with monetary donations. 2012 National Meetings – the NCTA meeting will be in the Fairfax area of Virginia the first or second week of August 2013. There won’t be any trade show this year. The NCTA has a new updated website at nn/default.aspx nn/default.aspx with information available to non-members as well as consumers. This website is a great resource for facts when talking with media. Check-off Program – Sherry Taylor, National Director, reported that the program was still on the table, but probably no action will be taken on it this year. 2012 Annual meeting: Waynesboro- John Carroll thanked the Program Team John, Dave Thomas, and Greg Lemmer for helping put together a great program. A motion was made to provide a plaque of appreciation to the Power Zone for donating chain saws for annual raffle, and to offer half-page ads to $500 sponsors and quarter-page ads for $250 sponsors. Robert will send thank you letters to the sponsors and Greg Miller will send thank you letters to the exhibitors.

Business Grant Updates Winter/Spring grant)



Meeting formats – Tentative plans call for two one-day winter/spring meetings in early March, back-toback in Waynesboro and Wytheville. The meeting will focus on marketing and technology. The planning committee will be John

6Page 6 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 | VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Carroll, Sherry Taylor, Kyle Peer, Danny Neel, and Greg Lemmer. The Annual Summer Membership Meeting and Conference will tentatively be in Blacksburg with a 2-day format starting on Thursday morning with a technology program and weed control issues, and a marketing program in the afternoon with the business meeting at 4 p.m. and then the scholarship auction, social and dinner. On Friday morning there will be pesticide re-certification programs and workshops and a luncheon program/business meeting. The conference will also have the tree/wreath contests and other management/marketing programs. The planning committee will consist of Robert O’Keeffe, Kyle Peer, John Carroll Greg Lemmer State Fair display and Run sponsor – IT was the consensus to not sponsor the Farm Bureau Run at the Fair. It was moved that the VCTGA have a presence at the State Fair (September 28 – October 7) with the Virginia Green Industry Council in the Meadow Pavilion with the Ag exhibits and work with the Master Gardeners, seconded and passed. The VCTGA display will be setup with the new marketing brochures and promo items if they can be obtained through the 3rd USDA grant if approved in time. The Virginia Christmas Show – is scheduled for November 1-4, 2012 in Mechanicsville. A motion was made to have a staffed VCTGA exhibit at this consumer show, seconded and passed. Plan of Action for 2012/13 Strategic Planning - Revisiting the Plan- Where are we now? Moving forward! Nominations report – Greg Miller will announce the slate of officers at the annual meeting. Adjourn 9:17 p.m. Respectively submitted, Jeff Miller, Exec. Secretary VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Annual Membership Meeting Minutes 3:45 p.m., Friday, August 24, 2012 Best Western Inn, Waynesboro

Call to Order by President Virginia Carroll at 2:45 p.m. Approval of Minutes of meeting – a motion was approve the minutes of the annual meeting on August seconded and passed.

previous made to previous 5, 2011,

REPORTS Financial Report – Jeff Miller / Robert O’Keeffe – Jeff Miller reviewed the Balance Sheet and P&L Sheet for the 2011 year end and also the 2012 year-to-date Balance Sheet and P&L Sheet. Robert O’Keeffe had received a copy of the 2011 year-end reports to review prior to the meeting. It was moved to accept the reports as presented, seconded and passed. 2013 Budget is being prepared and Jeff requested input from the membership. Membership update – Jocelyn Lampert reported that the membership was up 5 members over the same period last year. Mt. Rogers Report - Charlie Conner reported that the new Mt. Rogers Seed Orchard development was progressing well after five years of planning. Their next meeting is September 17 and he invited VCTGA members to attend. News Journal – Jeff Miller noted the need for more technical information for News Journal and Holiday News Promotions/PR and requested members to submit information and suggestions on what they’d like to see in the Journal. Promotional materials for members – Jeff noted that through the

recent marketing grants, that there are many resources available to members in addition to the banners and brochures that were sent to all members in November 2011 to help with marketing the ‘Real Tree Experience’. National Organization report Sherrie Taylor reported: Trees 4 Troops – this program would focus on November 30 – December 2 for collection of trees. The NCTA also has forms that members can have at their retail locations for $1.00 donations for customers who want to support Trees for Troops, but don’t’ want to donate a tree. 2012 National Meetings – The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) is working to promote membership and to work more with the state associations. Their goal is to a great advocate for all the associations on a national level. The 2013 NCTA meeting is scheduled for sometime in the first 2 weeks of August in Northern Virginia. Check-off Program – there is no news on this program for 2012. An election year is not a good time to start a promotional program. 2012 Annual meeting: Waynesboro - John Carroll thanked his Program Team- Robert O’Keeffe, Greg Miller, Dave Thomas, and Greg Lemmer for their assistance in putting together a great meeting and program. Roberta Clouse and Donna O’Halloran volunteered to help with the planning of the 2013 meeting.

Business Grant Updates – Jeff Miller noted that the VCTGA has almost completed the first USDA grant, was working on the seconded grant and expected to receive a third grant in September, which have been written and submitted by Greg Lemmer. Jeff noted that members would be get-

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ting a survey to determine if they had any increase in sales from the marketing programs which will be needed to submit with the final reports after the grants are completed. State Fair Display and the Virginia Christmas Show – The State Fair is on again and the Virginia Green Industry Council is coordinating a green industry display in the Meadow Pavilion with other Ag groups. If the VCTGA gets approval on the third USDA marketing grant in time, promotion items will be distributed at the Fair with the “Experience a Real Virginia Tree” brochures and displays. The VCTGA will also have a display at the Virginia Christmas Show in Mechanicsville on November 1-4, 2012. A motion was made to participate in both of these shows, seconded and passed. A signup form for volunteers to staff these shows was passed around for members to select times they could volunteer. Media Ads for the 2012 Season – The first grant will finish up with the placement of multiple “Experience a Real Virginia Tree” ads in daily and weekly papers with a circulation of over 581,000. Website – Greg Lemmer reviewed the new VCTGA website and noted that members can now login to their miniwebpage and do their own updates at any time and with the new marketing promotion, it is very important that member’s info is up to date because the marketing program is directing potential buyers to the VCTGA website to locate growers in their local area.

Plan of Action for 2012/13 Strategic Planning - Revisiting the Plan- Where are we now? Moving forward! The Board continues to review the plan and adjust during the year to take advantage of marketing/promotional opportunities to help members be more successful and profitable.

Winter/Spring Workshops (per grant) Meeting formats: The VCTGA is planning an early March meeting in 2013 as two 1-day workshops, one in Waynesboro area and the second the following day in the Wytheville area. This time of year has better opportunities for better speakers on technology and labor, and a good time to survey how the previous marketing season went and ideas for the 2013 season. A motion was made to proceed with the winter meetings, seconded and passed. Annual VCTGA Meeting & Conference – this meeting is tentatively scheduled for Blacksburg and will be revised some in a 2-day format with annual tree/wreath contests, concurrent sessions on pesticide recertification and a wreath workshop with a lunch onsite and the business meeting the first day followed by the scholarship auction and awards banquet. There will be educational sessions on Friday morning and a farm tour in the afternoon. The planning committee is working to increase the value of your meeting time and reduce meeting costs.

He was not able to attend, but Greg Miller will deliver it to him in the near future. Adjourn – Being no other business the meeting was adjourned at 3:45 p.m. to continue with the following events. 3:45-5:30 p.m. Annual Scholarship Auction 6:30 p.m. Annual Meeting Banquet – Waynesboro Country Club Respectively submitted, Jeff Miller, Exec. Secretary

VCTGA Recognizes VDACS Commissioner

Nominations & Election of Directors – Greg Miller presented the following slate of officers and directors positions that are up for election this year: Robert O’Keeffe as Treasurer One-year Directors: Rodney Richardson Kathy Rasnick Rasnic Charlie Conner It was moved that the slate be accepted as presented by acclamation, seconded and passed. Board Member Recognitions – Virginia Carroll thanked Jocelyn Lampert and Derrick Proctor for their service on the VCTGA Board and presented them with Certificates of Appreciation. A special Certificate of Appreciation was prepared presentedfor to T. Garth Nelson who has been a long time member and supporter of the Virginia Christmas Tree industry and the VCTGA.

Virginia Carroll presents the VCTGA 2012 President’s Award

Presented to Matt Lohr Commissioner of Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services In recognition of his outstanding initiative, support and service to the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association and the Virginia Grown Christmas tree industry

8 | VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 Page 8 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Eric Day from Insect Identification Laboratory in the Department of Entomology at VA Tech manages the Common Insect and Mite Pests of Christmas Trees website – an ongoing project providing scouting, identification and con troll information to Christmas tree growers.

VCTGA Conference Highlights

Growing a Greener Virginia Grown Christmas Tree The VCTGA 2012 Annual Meeting & Conference was held in Waynesboro, Virginia on August 23-25 at the Best Western Inn & Conference Center.

Greg Miller of Willow Springs Tree Farm in Montgomery County Virginia. spoke about “Tree Establishment: Planting Stock Selection, Planting Methods and First Year Care”

Janet and Greg Lemmer with Rick Dungey at the Thursday BBQ dinner Rick Dungey, Public Relations Manager of the National Christmas Tree Association reporting on “2011 Season Sales Success….What you need to Know!” Janet Miller, from Charlottesville, currently involved with the creation of a botanical garden at McIntire Park. She held “Custom wreath workshops Monticello Style!”

Speakers were: Wade Butler of Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland. He gave a virtual Tour of Butler’s Orchard and how they operated a second generation multi-enterprise agricultural operation with an integration of agri-tourism. Commissioner of Agriculture, Matt Lohr, was the keynote luncheon speaker emphasized the necessity of marketing in both good and not so good times. He also highlighted the opportunities VCTGA has available through partnerships with VDACS and funds that have been made available to the VCTGA through USDA Specialty Crop Grants. Alex White, Agriculture Economics, Virginia Tech spoke on “Striving for Success in an Ever-Changing Economy”

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Dave Thomas of Valley Star Farms Evergreen Tree Farm. He is a Virginia Tech graduate and also a consulting forester. He led a panel on “Brags and Blunders” Todd Marcum of Access Design company talked about the “New, Improved VCTGA Website” Jocelyn Lambert, of Crazy Joe’s Christmas Tree Farm in Culpeper County, along with Donna O’Halloran of Glengary Christmas Tree Farm spoke about “Improving Profits with Wreaths and Greenery: On Farm Sales and Fundraisers” Norman Dart the VDACS Office of Plant & Pest Services as the State Plant Pathologist, talked about “Beneficial Fungi: How they benefit conifers in nature and Christmas Tree Farms”

A “Pre-Conference Workshop “So you want to grow Christmas Trees?” was held with a panel discussion with: Greg Miller, Kyle Peer of the Reynolds Homestead AREC in Southwest Virginia, Norm Dart, Eric Day of the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech and John Carroll. Commissioner Matt Lohr was presented with the 2012 President’s Award in recognition of his outstanding initiative, support and service to the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association and the Virginia Grown Christmas tree industry. Saturday Farm Tours included: Dave Thomas of Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm and Gary and Lynn Hess of Back Home on the Farm An annual auction was held after the Annual Membership meeting and raised over $1,400 for the Scholarship Fund.

Sponsors of the Conference: SponsorsPower of theZone Conference: Virginia Farm Bureau Power Zone Farm Bureau Federation Virginia Farm Bureau Kelco Industries Farm Bureau Federation TNI Packaging Inc Howey Tree Baler Kelco Industries Crop Production Services TNI PackagingTractor Inc. Kubota/Beverage FarmHowey CreditTree of theBaler Virginias

Crop Production Services Kubota/Beverage Tractor Farm Credit of the Virginias


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National Christmas Tree Association Update Check off Program So Close, but Yet So Far The nationwide Christmas Tree Research and Promotion Order, or check off program, achieved a significant victory in June when the Senate overwhelmingly (79-20) voted against a proposed Farm Bill amendment that could have done away with all mandatory check-off programs. According to the National Commodity Check off Boards and Councils, check off programs fund more than $905 million of research, promotion and consumer education programs annually, at no cost to the federal government, and have been enacted nationally by about 20 agricultural commodities. The amendment, which was offered by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), was the latest of scattered legislative efforts since the announcement of the Christmas Tree check off program was published in the Federal Register in November 2011. As you may remember, the Christmas Tree check off program was put on hold just a few days after it was established. The stay was precipitated by widespread media coverage characterizing it as a new tax on Christmas trees being imposed by the Obama Administration. Although the negative media was quickly quieted and retractions aired, some members of Congress introduced legislation to specifically disallow either all check off programs in general or the Christmas Tree program in particular. None of those proposals gained much traction, but the Senate defeat of the DeMint amendment was the clearest Christmas Tree program to go forward, the industry will need to continue its support for the check off initiative. Certainly, the group of 10Page 10 |

volunteer leaders advocating for a check-off program for the Christmas Tree industry expected to be finished by now. Some served on a check off study task force to study how a program might work for the industry, beginning in 2008. Once the task force completed its work and submitted a proposed program to the USDA in 2009, Christmas Tree Promotion Now (CTPN) was incorporated to shepherd the program through the system. Betty Malone of Sunrise Tree Farm in Oregon headed up both the task force and then CTPN for another three years. Many others have worked diligently throughout the process. This summer, Paul Schroeder of Wisconsin’s North Countree Christmas Inc. took over the reins as CTPN chairperson. There is room for a couple of new board members to help get this effort across the finish line. Please contact Paul at 715/856-5784 if you are interested in joining the board. There is also a need for funding. Contributions can be sent to CTPN, c/o Steve Vander Weide, 2950 N. Lucas Rd, Manton, MI 49663, or contact Steve at 231/839-2868 to learn more.

About Check off Programs from the National Commodity Check off Boards and Councils Q: What is a check off program? A: A check off program is an industry-funded generic marketing and research program de-signed to increase domestic and/or international demand for an agricultural commodity. This can be done through promotion, research, new product development and a variety of other marketing tools. These programs are similar to businesses funded by share-holders with a board of directors that is ac-countable to the shareholders.

Q: Who pays into the check off program? A: Each check off program is supported entirely by its respective industry, which could include U.S. producers, processors, handlers and importers. No taxpayer or government funds are involved. Contribution rates vary with the different check offs, but they are al-ways based on a percentage of net sales and/ or assessed at a set rate per production unit. Q: How do check off programs benefit U.S. producers, processors, handlers or importers? A: The fundamental goal of every check off program is to increase commodity demand, thereby increasing the potential long-term economic growth of all sectors of the industry. Q: Do check off programs benefit consumers? A: Yes, check off programs benefit consumers by providing: 

Product information to help make in-formed choices.

Research to create new and improved products that meet consumer quality, safety and nutritional expectations.

Q: Who directs checkoff programs? A: Check off programs are directed by industry-governed boards, appointed by the U.S. secretary of agriculture. These boards are responsible for allocating funds and approving business plans and programs. Check off program participants have the right to retain or discontinue their respective programs. Q: How is the federal government involved in check off programs? A: Check off programs were established by acts of Congress. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has primary oversight responsibilities. USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) provides additional

VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

oversight responsibilities for check off program activities in global markets. Q: Are all check off programs the same? A: No. Although all check off programs do have a similar goal and purpose - to increase commodity demand and long-term economic growth for their respective industries - they all accomplish this in different ways that are best suited for the market structure of each commodity. The preceding article is provided by Christmas Tree Promotion Now (CTPN), a volunteer-led organization focused on the checkoff program for Real Christmas Trees. While CTPN is not a committee of nor funded by NCTA, the association is proud to participate in and publicize the CTPN's efforts. For more information about CTPN, contact Paul Schroeder at 715/856-5784 or paul@

NCTA Puts Protection at the Forefront at the 2012 Convention & Trade Show Didn’t Make It to Sacramento? Here’s What You Missed … The message of the 2012 NCTA Convention & Trade Show, which took place August 8-11 in Sacramento, Calif., was loud and clear: NCTA is focused on protection of the Real Christmas Tree industry – and on helping the industry thrive in today’s rapidly evolving business, economic and political environment.

The presentations and discussion at the NCTA Convention focused on progress and successes on industry protection issues, as well as current challenges and future threats. Sessions on legislative and regulatory issues and fire codes gave attendees an understanding of some critical issues that NCTA is working to ad-

dress. The outstanding educational program continued with breakout sessions on tree keepability, wildlife control, pest management and other topics, as well as practical business issues like insurance, farm safety, accounting and succession planning. During the general session, NCTA leaders provided updates on the association’s work, and legislative consultant Craig Regelbrugge shed light on what NCTA is doing to combat legislative and regulatory challenges. The keynote speaker, Jack McCall, brought it all together, helping attendees apply life lessons to the “Challenge of Change,” with a humorous presentation on change management. The new NCTA website was unveiled, including features that will provide NCTA members with easy access to resources that will help protect their businesses, whether it is dealing with misinformation in the

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media or preparing for a Form I-9 compliance audit. A blue spruce grown by Russell and Beau Estes, owners of Peak Farms in Jefferson, N.C., was named 2012 Grand Champion of the National Christmas Tree Contest, earning the Estes family the right to present the official White House Christmas Tree this Christmas season. Paul Smith, owner of Cool Springs Nursery of Banner Elk, N.C., was selected as the Reserve Champion with a Fraser fir. Traditionally, the Reserve Champion has provided a Christmas Tree for the Residence of the Vice President. Winners of the National Wreath Contest were Rene Scarcella of McMenomy’s Highland Tree Farm in La Center, Wash. (undecorated category) and Gary Hague of Hague’s Trees in Hatfield, Penn. (decorated category). The “Gallery of Trees” decorating contest was won by the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association. NCTA also brought together state association leaders attending the convention to discuss ways NCTA could be more helpful at the state level. Great ideas – from sharing program suggestions to methods for association leaders to communicate – were the result.

pointing convention registration and exhibitor/sponsor support, NCTA is faced with funding shortfalls that threaten the national association’s ability to provide a strong, united voice for the industry. During the convention, NCTA’s leadership announced the creation of a Protection and Advocacy Fund to support current and ongoing programs, operations, outreach and education to advocate for and protect the farm-grown Christmas Tree industry. NCTA’s Board of Directors each pledged at least $200, and challenged Convention attendees to each give $100. If you would like to be part of the fight, please consider joining NCTA or making a contribution (call 636/449-5070 or download a pledge form at Center/AnnualConvention.aspx ). ). Center/AnnualConvention.aspex Now more than ever, the farmgrown Christmas Tree industry needs a strong national voice and advocate. And, as the 2012 Convention & Trade Show proved, NCTA is focusing on all the right areas to be that strong advocate and resource for the industry. Provided by the National Christmas Tree Association

The EPA severely restricted (or prohibited) the use of effective crop protection chemicals?

Invasive pests or diseases prevented the movement of trees across state lines?

Choose & Cut farms and agritainment operations could no longer be insured?

Growers were forced to pay overtime to their seasonal workers?

An allergist releases a report right before the season warning of the allergy hazards of Real Trees?

Christmas Trees lost their status as a specialty crop and were no longer eligible for disaster relief programs?

Small growers and retailers were targeted by Department of Labor audits and punitive fines?

Media around the world no longer had an answer to, “How were Christmas Tree sales last year?”

News media got an answer to this question, but it came from those who promote and sell fake Christmas trees?

Those who promote and sell fake Christmas trees became the first and only contact or resource for news media on all topics related to Christmas trees?

What if?

The California Christmas Tree Association hosted a fun and educational theme night event at the California State Railroad Museum, which featured tours of historic trains, excellent food and a barbershop quartet for entertainment. CCTA volunteers put in a lot of time and effort on the theme night, pretour and Saturday farm tours – and their efforts really paid off for attendees who took advantage of these optional events.

What if …

With all these great opportunities, it’s unfortunate that, due to sluggish membership renewals and disap12Page 12 |

family members due to unreasonable estate taxes?

Fire codes were changed and began restricting the display of Christmas Trees in homes without sprinkler systems?

Trucking or phytosanitary regulations prevented the import or export of cut Christmas Trees?

Growers could no longer use the H-2A program to employ legal workers?

Farm youth and teens were no longer allowed to help out at the operation?

Retiring farmers could no longer afford to pass their farms onto

National consumer and industry research was no longer conducted to measure and predict trends?

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012

What if there was no National Christmas Tree Association to help protect the industry and your business?

I heard sales were up in 2011 – isn’t this good news? According to the annual consumer poll, which is funded through voluntary contributions, consumers said they purchased 14% more Real Christmas Trees than they did the year before. That means 30.8 million trees were purchased in 2011 – and that’s great news! But while consumers still bought 3.2 real trees for every fake one sold, fake tree purchases were also up last year, with 16% more artificial trees purchased. And if you look at the trends, consumer purchases of real trees have been zigzagging in a generally negative trend since 2005. There’s still more work to be done on the consumer front, and threats abound for the industry. That’s why your help is needed more than ever.

The need for a nationwide Real Christmas Tree community – with the desire to have its voice heard – has never been stronger. The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) represents the Real Christmas Tree community with one voice to protect and advocate on behalf of your business. This year, NCTA’s leadership has enacted a renewed focus on protection, advocacy, communication and collaboration. More than ever, we are pursuing a targeted, energized agenda -- and we need your support, through investment in the Real Tree Advocacy Fund, to enact change and ensure our industry’s unified voice is heard.

      Virginia Fall Specials 

I already support NCTA through my membership – why should I give more? Membership dues make

up about 45% of NCTA’s annual revenue and cover about the same portion of expense. These funds are used to pay for member benefits, including publications, communications, website listings and the dayto-day costs of maintaining an organization, such as board meetings, insurance, audits and legal expenses. The lobbying portion of our contract with the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) is also funded by dues revenue. NCTA meetings, such as the Annual Convention, account for another 30% of annual revenue and expenses. Doesn’t TIP funding help pay for these protection costs? The Tree Industry Partnership (TIP) is a program in which participating state and regional associations send $20 per member to NCTA. This helps to defray the cost of the Find-A-Tree directory on the website, as well as fund other protection programs as

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VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

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determined by the board. TIP accounts for about 6% of NCTA’s annual budget. What about the check off program that was announced by USDA last year? As you’ve likely heard, USDA published a final ruling on the Christmas Tree Research, Promotion and Information Order, or check off program, in November 2011. Just days later, the order was “stayed indefinitely” after the media misreported the check off program as a “tax on Christmas.” How will my investment support NCTA’s mission and efforts to protect the industry? NCTA relies on voluntary contributions from members and non-members within the industry to fund its work on legislative and regulatory initiatives, holiday safety, research, media advocacy and other protection-focused programs. In 2012, the fundraising goal for the Real Tree Advocacy Fund is just $55,000 – and with your help and support we can surpass that to better serve the industry. That goal represents just 0.2 cents per tree sold in 2011.

Now’s the Time -Get Involved in Trees for Troops!

Trees for Troops, which provides free, farm-grown Christmas Trees to armed forces members and their families in the U.S. and overseas, is off and running for 2012. Now is a great time to join in on this worthPage 14

14 |

while, rewarding cause. Last year, more than 19,000 trees were delivered to bases in the U.S. and Middle East to thankful troops and military families, through the generosity of the Real Christmas Tree industry, consumers and corporate sponsors, including FedEx. Trees for Troops is important to our military families AND important for our industry. Research from the National Christmas Tree Association shows that more 20 million households reported an awareness of Trees for Troops, and that more than 2 million households indicated they were influenced to purchase a real tree because of Trees for Troops. That is a strong statement on the positive values that prospective buyers associate with Trees for Troops and, through it, real Christmas Trees. You can support Trees for Troops in a number of ways. You could donate trees through your participating state or regional Christmas Tree association, host a trailer drop during Trees for Troops Weekend, donate money or collect donations from consumers at your farm or retail location, help locate local and national sponsors, and more. Details on the opportunities to help can be found on the Trees for Troops website ( or by contacting the headquarters staff at the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation. What’s coming up next? The Trees for Troops International kick-off will be November 20 at the Dull’s Tree Farm in Thorntown, Indiana. Plans are to ship out more than 300 donated trees prior to Thanksgiving to USO destinations in and around Kuwait.

Trees for Troops Weekend is set for November 30 - December 2, 2012. If you would like to host a trailer to collect donated trees, please sign up ASAP as this is a first come, first served opportunity. The Trees for Troops online tool kit has plenty of great resources that can be downloaded from the newly redesigned website www.TreesFor www.TreesFor . Please make sure you take advantage of the tools, which include: 

Checklists for pick-up locations

Sample press releases you can customize for your local newspaper/media

Recognition certificates you can print and give to those who go above and beyond

“Pin up” signs (new this year and easy to do) – just print the pin-up forms and ask customers to buy one for $1. Customers can sign their name and display their support for Trees for Troops in your retail location.

VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Your help is needed to get the word out about this valuable program – and the need to donate dollars in addition to trees. This year, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation Trustees and staff are making major effort to ensure Trees for Troops is financially sustainable and can continue well into the future. About $7 in donated dollars is needed for each tree that is delivered. Every effort is helpful in meeting this goal, from the annual quilt raffle to the jar collections many of you do each year (thank you!). Here are some other ways you can help: 

Join the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation Trustees in seeking out local sponsorships from the people you do business with. It’s hard to say no to such a great program, and local sponsorships can be at any price point. Download the sponsorship form from

the online tool kit to get started. 

Sell Trees for Troops bears (available through the online www.TreesFor store at www.TreesFor ) at your gift shop. Wholesale prices are available, and Trees for Troops receives $5 for each bear sold.

If you know government employees, encourage them to direct a payroll donation to the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC #12283).

If you have family members whose employers offer matching gift programs (many larger companies do) – ask them to work with their companies to arrange a match for their donations. This is often handled through the human resources department.

If you know contacts with a major corporation that might be a potential corporate sponsor, email the CSF staff ( ). We will make the “ask” – we just need the right person in the right company.

Lastly, as trees are being delivered to military bases, make sure you follow/like/retweet/pin Trees for Troops on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube to find all the wonderful messages of thanks that Trees for Troops receives. This helps enhance the visibility of Trees for Troops, and creates even more goodwill toward the Real Christmas Tree industry!

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VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Page 15 | 15

Mount Rogers Fraser Fir Seed Orchard natural stands of Fraser fir continue to decline and the Grayson Highlands Seed Orchard remains a major source of seed for the Fraser fir Christmas tree industry.

The Grayson Highlands Park Seed Orchard, managed by the Mount Rogers Christmas Tree Growers Association, has sustained the flow of Mount Rogers Fraser fir seed since its establishment. The first two hundred trees were planted in the seed orchard in 1980 as a result of concerns over the dwindling natural stands of Fraser fir. The native trees were dying due to the balsam wooly adelgid, an introduced insect from Europe. Planting trees in an area where they could be managed, and the harmful insects controlled, was viewed by many as the only way to preserve the gene pool and to have a sustainable supply of seed for the Christmas tree industry.

The health of these original seed trees is beginning to deteriorate. Consequently, the Mount Rogers Christmas Tree Growers Association in cooperation with the Virginia Division of Forestry decided to establish a new Fraser fir seed orchard at the Old Flat site on Mount Rogers. The Virginia Commonwealth State Forester, Carl Garrison, III, shared the vision of the collaboration and partnership for a seed orchard as a way to preserve the superior characteristics of the Mount Rogers Fraser fir for many generations of Christmas tree farmers and their customers in the future. The Virginia Department of Forestry initiated a land exchange with the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation, which lead to the establishment of the “Old Flat State Forest” and the new Mount Rogers Fraser Fir Seed Orchard. The land exchange was a four year process which was approved by the unanimous consent of the Virginia State Legislature and signed by the Governor. Preserving the native Mount Rogers Fraser fir for its unique gene pool will have long lasting environmental significance, which is important to the Department of Forestry’s vision.

In 1981 four-hundred trees were added to the seed orchard from the Cabin Ridge section of Mount Rodgers National Recreational Area. Additional selections of Mount Rogers strain Fraser fir have been added throughout the orchards life. At present there are approximately 1200 selected trees in the orchard. The 16Page 16 |

In April of 2010, the initial site preparation, fertilization, and planting of Mount Rogers strain Fraser fir root stock was completed at the Old Flat Seed Orchard. Fourteen hundred and fifty two grafting rootstock were transplanted on 15 by 15 foot centers with orchard roads established every 30 feet. Dr. John Frampton, Associate Professor of Forestry at North Carolina State University, created an orchard design with the goal of grafting 50 genetically superior; Mount Rogers strain Fraser fir, in a managed replication to minimize inbreeding and maximize the orchards ability to produce the highest quality Fraser fir seed. Members of the Mount Rogers Area Christmas Tree Growers Association have been searching their fields for the “best of the best” Fraser fir to graft into the Old Flats Seed Orchard. All of the trees selected for the Old Flat Seed Orchard must be the Mount Rogers strain of Fraser fir. Other attributes of these “super trees” include but are not limited to bud set, growth potential, form, bud break, needle length, and overall vigor as compared to the surrounding Fraser fir in the plantation. The selected trees are also being tested by Dr. John Frampton to establish their ability to hold needles. The first trees to be evaluated were selected from the Mount Rogers Grayson Highlands Progeny Test planted on Mount Rogers Tree Farm owned by Rodney Richardson in Whitetop, Virginia. Sixteen exceptional Fraser firs were selected based on the attributes listed above. These trees were tested for needle retention in 2010 and 2011. Twelve of these superior trees expressed excellent needle retention and were chosen to be the first trees grafted into the Old Flat Seed Orchard. On Friday, VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

April 20, 2012, scion material collected from these twelve trees was grafted onto 326 trees on pre-tagged rootstock throughout the orchard. Fifty additional “Super trees” from Christmas tree farms in the Mount Rogers area have been tagged as possible selections for the Old Flat Orchard. Eleven of these trees were evaluated in 2011 for needle retention; eight of those selections expressed excellent needle retention and will be reevaluated in 2012.

There is plenty of work to be done in the following weeks and months for the Old Flats Seed Orchard. Establishment of a permanent fence is needed to exclude the deer, bear, and wild ponies from the orchard. Mount Rogers Red spruce seedlings are also being grown from seed collected in the Grayson Highlands State Park and will be planted as a living wind break around the seed orchard. This autumn, we need to select fifty additional genetically superior Mount Rogers Fraser fir to be added as contenders for the improved seed orchard. Eighty to one hundred of these selections along with the existing selections will be evaluated for needle retention this winter. In the spring of 2013, the Fraser fir that display superior needle retention will be grafted into the Old Flat Seed Orchard. YOU CAN HELP! Are you interested in being a part of this exciting new Fraser fir seed orchard? You can help by identifying outstanding Mount Rogers seed source Fraser fir trees on your farm. These Christmas VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

trees should have grown faster, have better color, and have better overall quality than the other trees in your field(s). Those trees selected to be included in the new orchard will be named for the farm that produced them and forever remain associated with the member’s farm (a branding of seed with the member’s name on it.) If you have one or several of these “Super trees” on your farm, the Mount Rogers Christmas Tree Growers Association would like to work with you in evaluating them for inclusion in the Old Flat Orchard. For more information please contact Della Deal at 336-372-2756 or * Grant funding from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the USDA Specialty Crop Grant fund have made the establishment of a genetically superior Mount Rogers Fraser fir Seed Orchard at the Old Flats State Forest a reality. * A special thank you to all of the participating members from the Mount Rogers Area Christmas Tree Growers Association, Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Dr. John Frampton, Charlie Conner, Dr. Earl Deal, John Carol, Rodney Richardson, James Hayes, Richard Richardson, Buryl Greer, Kevin Thompson, Dean Richardson, Ron Cooper, Jim Rockis, and John Rosser. Acknowledgements: Mount Rogers Area Christmas Tree Growers Association Mount Rogers Area Christmas Tree Growers Specialty Crop Grand Report October 22, 2010 – Dr. Earl Deal Della Deal, Smokey Holler Tree Farm LLC.

Soil Nutrients Before & After a Rotation By Steve Rhoades

I have heard it said that, after a rotation of Christmas trees is removed from a field, it will be necessary to apply fertilizer to the field because of nutrients removed as the trees are growing. As I have noted in previous articles about fertilization in Pines and Needles (Winter 2006, Winter 2010, and Spring 2012), soil tests by the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service indicate that my fields are generally high in nutrients. Those findings, along with my own experiments with fertilizing my trees, have made it clear that my trees won’t benefit significantly from regular annual fertilization. So, I don’t fertilize unless a tree shows signs of a nutrient deficiency. Because of the generally high fertility of my soil, I was curious about whether I should apply fertilizer after a tree rotation or whether the natural regeneration of nutrients would be sufficient to maintain the fertility of my soil. Let me emphasize, I want to grow good Christmas trees, but I don’t want to waste time and money, and possibly contribute to water pollution, by applying fertilizer that simply isn’t beneficial for my trees. Of course, Christmas trees draw nutrients from the soil in order to grow. These nutrients are not all suddenly taken from the soil at the end of a rotation when the trees are removed from the field. The nutrients are taken up slowly and gradually from the day a seedling is planted. But various natural factors including rain, earthworms, bacteria in the soil, dead vegetation, etc. all contribute to adding nutrients to the soil slowly and gradually. This natural process offsets, to some degree, the loss of nutrients to the growing trees. Furthermore, trees are not heavy users of nutrients compared to Page 17 | 17

many field crops such as corn. Given the good fertility of my fields at the start of a rotation, the relatively slow uptake of soil nutrients by trees, and the natural regeneration of nutrients, I wondered if the nutrient levels in my soil might be perfectly adequate for growing more trees at the end of a rotation. Therefore, I decided to get a little information on this topic right off my own farm as described below. My approach was straightforward. I compared soil test results at the beginning of a rotation to test results shortly after the first rotation had been cut and removed from the field.

sults before and after a five-year rotation are strikingly similar. (P represents phosphate, K potassium, Ca calcium, and Mg magnesium.) The letter ratings (H and H+) for nutrients are very nearly identical, but somewhat higher for P at the end of the period than at the beginning. It is notable that lbs./A were actually higher at the end of the period than at the beginning for three of the four nutrients; the one exception being Ca which was at 1808 lbs./A at the beginning and 1754 lbs./A at the end. To the extent that these findings are reliable, it is quite apparent that soil in this field planted in fastgrowing cypress trees suffered no diminution in nutrients during the rotation. It clearly makes no sense for me to follow the conventional wisdom and automatically fertilize this field at the end of the first rotation. Recall that amongst the detailed print on the back of the “Soil Report” sheet, it says that “When soils test High to Very High, plants usually do not respond to fertilizer.” Even when “soils test Medium, plants sometimes respond to fertilizer.” (my emphasis)

soil samples from exactly the same depth. I suspect, however, that there was not enough difference between my sampling procedures to have had much effect on the outcome of the tests. It appears to me that a more likely explanation for the nice soil outcome is that the field under evaluation had plenty of nutrients that were not diminished by growing trees. I think that natural processes in this field were simply able to offset the nutrient uptake of my trees.

These results may be partly due to the fairly wide spacing (7’x8’) that I use. If instead, I had used 5’x6’ spacing, I would have been The initial “Soil Test Report” growing nearly twice as many trees from the Extension Service was daton an acre of land, and the nutrient ed December 2, 2003 and the final demands on that acre would prereport was dated March 13, 2009. sumably be nearly twice as great. The field had been planted with The favorable nutrient results may Murray, Blue Ice, and Carolina Sapalso be partly because my field is phire cypress trees. These are rapidcharacterized by relatively heavy ly growing trees. No fertilizer of soil--a silt/loam with some clay sevany kind was applied to the field eral inches down. Of course, heavy before or during the rotation. The soil is a curse in some ways, like trees were about 12-to-18 inches tall holding too much water for too long when planted with a dibble bar in for the trees. It can also make it October 2003 and were about seven very difficult for planting, especially feet tall and very full when they in dry weather. But, on the other were cut in December 2008. The hand, heavy soil tends to hold nutriWhat might have led to this very soil test results were reported in ents much better than coarser soils nice outcome regarding my soil ferterms of 1) lbs. per acre (lbs./A) of that have a lot of sand or gravel altility over the course of a five-year macro-nutrients (P, K, Ca, and Mg) lowing nutrients to pass quickly by rotation of Christmas trees? For one and 2) macro-nutrient ratings High the root zone of the trees. Nutrientthing, the test results may be spuriand High+ (H and H+). Those test holding ability is an especially nice ous if they were affected by my soil results, both before and after the rocharacteristic of heavier soils particsampling procedure. I certainly did tation, are summarized below. ularly with respect to nitrogen, not take samples from exactly the which tends to be highly mobile in same spots for the first and last tests, As you can see, the soil test rethe soil and passes through rapidly. and it is likely that I did not take the Another reason that the nutrient levels in this field were sustained may be that this field grows December 2, 2003: P=66 lbs./A; K=220 lbs./A; Ca=1808 lbs./A; Mg=196 lbs./A large amounts of vegetation in the form of grasses and weeds P=H ; K=H ; Ca=H ; Mg=H + (presumably due to the high nutrient content). When I mow and apply glyphosate in this field, all March 13, 2009: P=99 lbs./A; K=280 lbs./A; Ca=1754 lbs/A; Mg=200lbs./A cuttings and killed vegetation P=H+ ; K=H ; Ca=H ; Mg=H+ remain on the field leading to a natural release and regeneration of nutrients with the aid of 18Page 18 |

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012

growing Christmas trees. It just takes a little effort to figure this out, and you might find that the costs and possible pollution effects of fertilizing can be avoided. For me, this has been a simple, interesting, and easy way to increase profits, and my trees are doing just fine.

earthworms and other soil organisms. I have examined only the before and after nutrient levels in one small field for a single rotation of trees, so it is not possible to draw generalizations from the findings. It would not, however, surprise me if these results held up for other similar tree fields, because the findings seem to me to be consistent with theory based on what plant biologists and soil scientists generally know about the uptake of nutrients by trees, the natural regeneration of soil nutrients, and the capacity of various soils for holding nutrients. Other growers who have similar soil characteristics in terms of nutrient levels, soil density, the same or greater tree spacing, and who leave the mowed or herbicide-killed vegetation in their fields, may also find that natural factors do aStrathmeyer fine job of maintaining the Ad VA CTGA 7.5 x 5.pdf nutrient levels of their fields for

By Steve Rhoades, Mountain View Farm, Edinburg, VA

Governor McDonnell Proclaims December as Virginia Christmas Tree Month Certificate of Recognition By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized:

CHRISTMAS TREE MONTH VCTGA News Journal Schedule Issue Winter Spring Summer Fall 1


Article/Ad Deadline Nov 15 Mar 15 June 1 Sept 15

Mail Date Jan 15 Apr 15 Jul 1 Oct 15

2:07:00 PM

WHEREAS, Virginia farmers grow Christmas trees on thousands of acres across the state for wholesale, retail and choose-and-cut customers, WHEREAS, Virginia farmers produce numerous varieties including spruce, pine, fir and cedar as fresh cut, cut-your-own or live trees; and WHEREAS, Virginia ranks in the top ten among states in terms of total Christmas trees harvested, total tree acreage and number of operations; and

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| 19 Page 19

WHEREAS, purchases of real Virginia Christmas trees benefit the growers, the environment and the state’s economy as well as those who enjoy the tree’s freshness, fragrance and lasting beauty; and WHEREAS, Virginia Christmas trees are a renewable resource and for every one harvested, two to three seedlings are planted in its place; and WHEREAS, consumers can drive an hour or less in any direction in Virginia and find fresh Virginia grown Christmas trees to purchase; and WHEREAS, Virginia Christmas Tree Growers donate thousands of Christmas Trees each year to various branches of the military around the country for the Trees to Troops program. WHEREAS, Christmas tree farming is part of Virginia’s most economically important industry, agriculture, and buying real Christmas trees from Virginia growers helps them maintain their agricultural operations and helps expand the overall economy of the state; NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize December 2012 as CHRISTMAS TREE MONTH in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens. Statistics/information sources: Information comes from the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association. The statement that Virginia ranks in the top ten among states in terms of total Christmas trees harvested, total tree acreage, and number of operations comes from the National Christmas Tree Association. Thanks to Elaine Lidholm, Director of Communications, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for drafting the proclamation and processing the request.

20Page 20 |

New Climatic Zones Released by USDA By -Tommy Naylor

In January 2012 , the US Department of Agriculture released the new plant hardiness zone map. These maps are useful tools for all who are engaged in the agricultural and horticultural industry. Growers, landscapers, researchers and serious homeowners who want the best in a landscape look at these maps to determine what zone they live in and what plant selection will survive for that area. Cold hardiness is the first and major issue with any plant when a customer is shopping at a garden center or nursery. Nowadays through better marketing and information, colorful plant labels addresses the basics to what zones the plant does best and of course proper planting procedures. Zone maps have been around for years but the average temperature is recorded each season for a thirty year average. A thirteen year period from 1974 to 1986 was documented and recorded and a new map was released in 1990, altering the zones from the previous maps in 1960. This period revealed a trend that cooler conditions prompted half zones. For example the older maps had zone 6 covering much of the mountain region with a 10 degree F zone with no regard to higher elevation change where the temperature drops 3 degrees per 1000 ft in elevation rise. The 1990 map split the whole zone into A and B, the cooler zone –A and the warmer zone –B. Here 5 degree increments were designated, thus zone 6 is 6A and 6B. There were also 10 climatic zones from zone 1 in colder regions of the north and Canada to zone 12 in tropical south Florida, Texas and California. With the release of the 2012 map, the cooler regions have been shrinking and warmer regions expanding. For example where I live in North Carolina, the 1990 map had me zone 7b. Now the new map puts me in the

cooler part of zone 8a, which is where we were many years ago before the release of the 1990 map. Some places did not change at all. For example, Raleigh is at an elevation of 370 feet above sea level remains at zone 7b. In Virginia the older (1990) map had a finger of zone 6b in the central piedmont, probably in the area where John and Virginia Carroll lives in Louisa. The new map no longer shows the zone 6 b finger as it has disappeared and is now zone 7a. How has all these changes evolved? The new maps were based on thirty years of records from many weather sources than the previous 30 years. Also many weather cycles have occurred from 1976 to 2005. The 1980's were influenced by much volcanic activity globally and the decade was cooler than normal. Some summers in the 1980's were marked by hot, droughty conditions, but the winters were very much colder particularly 1982 and 1983 and 1985 to 1989. The winter of 1985 was quite cold, record setting, below zero cold even in the piedmont and parts of the coastal plain. The 1990's gave a mixed bag of cold and very warm conditions and the 2000's have been on par much warmer than usual. Influential phenomenon such as the El Nino/La Nina effect in the Pacific and volcanic activity around the Pacific basin has induced weather we have been subjected to for the past ten years. More extremes in hot dry summers have been noticed and some automatically explain man made global warming is the culprit. Natural, yes; man made ,no . This is a cycle that will breakdown and cooler conditions can and will occur. Where does the updated climatic zones come into play in our Christmas tree operations? It may certainly affect what tree species we continue to plant if conditions continue to warm over the next 12 to 30 years. Piedmont and coastal plain tree farms may no longer be able to grow white pine or Norway spruce. Certainly any attempt to grow and experiment with firs of any kind

VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

will disappear. In the higher mountains will Fraser fir be able to survive? It is a hopeful yes and be able to adapt. With genetically improved plant material available, hopefully Fraser fir can survive, especially with the grafting of Turkish and Trojan fir that will enable it to grow in a warmer and maybe drier environment. Phytophora root rot can be reduced with grafting and challenge faced in Fraser fir production can be overcome. Winters will be short and mild with little freezes and fall may slow to cool down. For firs, the cool down signals the transfer from warm to dormancy prior to harvest and is needed for good needle retention. Pest problems such as insects and diseases will not be suppressed and the dates for pre and post spraying prior to and after bud break will be hard to track down . More days in the 80's and 90's for longer periods across the mountains will be a certainty and maybe fewer days of freezing or below.

There will still be those winters we are accustomed to seeing , snow and prolonged cold but not as frequent as in past decades. Springs will still be cold and wet and late freezes is never going away. A normal summer and fall is still possible- all hinging on two major weather phenomena, volcanoes and the Pacific El Nino and La Nina effect. These effects determine the west to east air flow and how the northern jet stream with shift in accordance to this air flow and moisture pattern. These new maps shows the shrinkage and expansion and also areas of no significant change from the previous older maps. To get a copy of the new USDA maps, it is available online at . You can get a copy of the continental US and each individual state to obtain as well. Provided by Tommy Naylor, North Lake Christmas Tree & Nursery

VCTGA Exhibit at the State Fair of Virginia

In partnership with the Virginia Green Industry Council, the VCTGA was part of the display at the State September 28 – October 7. Thanks to to these members Thanks membershelping helping with setup and staffing of of thethe display: with setup and staffing disJohn & Virginia Carroll, Lillian play: John & Virginia Carroll, LilliHoke, anDaniels, Daniels,Ron Ron&&Lorraine Lorraine Hoke, Jeff & Sandy Miller, Kyle Peer,and Jeff & Sandy Miller, Kyle Peer Greg Miller and Miller. Wayne Bowman. Greg

Carroll Resource Management, LLC Ad – Carroll Resource Mgt

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Ad – Tree Teck

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News - Leadership Torch is passed at Virginia Agribusiness Council Eric Holter, Chairman of the Virginia Agribusiness Council, has formally announced that Katie K. Frazier has been named President of the Virginia Agribusiness Council, effective July 1, 2012. Frazier, a graduate of Virginia Tech, has spent her career representing the interests of agriculture and forestry. After working for the Council from 2004-2011, Katie worked for the Alliance Group in Richmond and served as the Executive Director for the Virginia Grain Producers Association and Virginia Wine Council. She returned to the Agribusiness Council in May 2012 to transition to her new position

as President. “Katie brings a wealth of experience with her to this position after working with the Council for seven years as Vice President of Government Affairs, representing our membership and industry to state and federal officials,” noted Holter. “Her strong leadership skills, know ledge of the agribusiness industry, and passion for the Council and our members will enable our organization to continue building upon our success as we collectively address legislative and regulatory challenges and opportunities in the future.” Frazier commented, “The Virginia Agribusiness Council is a tremendous organization that effectively and decisively represents the interests of agriculture, forestry, and agribusiness in the Commonwealth.” Frazier went on to conclude, “I am committed to the Council and the agribusinesses, land-

owners, and farms we represent. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve the Council and industry alike. ” Virginia Agribusiness Council, Contact: Katie K. Frazier, (804) 643-3555 ( (

VCTGA Awarded 3rd USDA Specialty Crop Grant VCTGA is seeking to build upon our successes as we implement those actions from previous USDA Specialty Crop Competitive Grants. We propose to alter our course and aggressively establish a presence at Agritourism Festivals and other similar public events in order to expand our presentation to all customers. This program will begin October 1, 2012 and continue for 2 years. Grant written by Greg Lemmer

Experience a Real Virginia Tree

Ad – Riverside Enterprises

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VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

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Marketing Materials Available for Christmas 2012 We have marketing materials to promote “Experience a Real Tree” Christmas 2012 If you were at the VCTGA Annual Meeting in August, you saw some of the “hot off the press” new marketing materials and updated VCTGA logo. Through a grant from DACS/USDA, the VCTGA has been able to start a 2-pronged marketing program to help you sell more trees. The first is a “Buyer/Seller” promotion to help bring growers together with civic organizations who sell trees as a fundraiser and regular retailers. This has been started but should have its best impact in 2012.

 

The second program is marketing to consumers the “Experience a Real Tree” idea, which should help bring customers to choose-and-cut farms as well as to local retail/civic lots to buy fresh Virginia Grown Christmas Trees. To this end, the VCTGA has worked with a professional design firm to develop a new logo and marketing materials which we have enclosed samples for your review. An order form is also attached. 

Brochures: “Buy & Sell a Real Virginia Christmas Tree” are for you to use if you’re selling or want to sell to civic groups and/or retailers. It gives reasons for them to sell Virginia grown trees. There is room on the back for you to add your contact information. (up to 25 are available free to each member on request to the VCTGA office)

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“Experience a Real Tree” are for you to use when you’re talking to groups of consumers at club meetings, schools, farm tours, or wherever there are potential customers. There is room on the back for you to add your contact information. (up to 25 are available free to each member on request to the VCTGA office.) (3,500 of these are being distributed with the VDACS Christmas Tree Directory to 119 locations throughout the state.) “Photos”-All the photos in the brochures are owned by the VCTGA and are available to you, free, as a member benefit to use in any print, web or electronic media to promote your farm and “Experience a Real Tree”. They are available as high resolution photos for print quality, as in the brochures, or lower resolution for email or website use. These can be sent to you on a DVD or via email or download. Sign 18”x24”, printed front/back with an “H” wire stand, similar to the real estate/elections signs, that you can

use at your farm, tree lots or provide to your retailer customers to help promote trees. A reduced size copy of the sign is on the cover of the Fall issue of the VCTGA News Journal that you should be receiving in the mail in a couple of days. (one of these signs is available to each member on request to the VCTGA office.) Banner 3’x6’ like the retractable display, that was at the VCTGA meeting, is also available on banner type material with grommets and is weather resistant. Retractable stand display is also available for purchase, or rental, to cover shipping to you and back, if you need a professional display for a meeting or indoor event to help promote fresh real trees. Tree Tags - The VCTGA has had these available to members for many years. They were redesigned last year with the Virginia Grown logo, numbered, care instructions on the back, a place for customer information and price information and a tear off stub. Member Tree Farm Signs are also available if you need extra signs for different locations. (see photo in the Fall 2011 VCTGA News Journal)

All of these items are listed on the attached VCTGA member order form, so order soon to be ready to “Experience a Real Tree” selling season. The more everyone uses these marketing materials and related photos in your promotions, the more you help the entire Virginia Christmas tree industry! Questions? or call- 540-382-7310

VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

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Member Profile: Valley Star Farm & Evergreen Tree Farm Back in 1985, as a private consulting forester, I sold some timber for the owner of Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm, Dr. Tom Koudelka. Mr. Koudelka was up in years and mentioned he may soon want retire from raising trees and sell his farm. I talked with him awhile about growing Christmas Trees and found it quite interesting. Dr Koudelka originally purchased the 36 acre property in 1960. He began planting trees in 1963 and began selling wholesale Christmas trees in about 1970. Shortly thereafter he began selling Choose and Cut to the public, a fairly novel idea at the time. In 1988, three years after I met Dr. Koudelka, he contacted me to let me know he was indeed selling his farm. He asked if I was interested in buying it. I thought it would be a fun and perhaps profitable venture so he hired a consultant to value the trees, came up with a price for the farm and financed my purchase.

the great customer base sold enough trees to keep up my mortgage payments and have a little left to pay myself. We now have a good mix of nice trees and business is pretty good. Starting with an existing farm had some advantages, especially having loyal tree buyers who already knew about and came out to the farm and having an income stream. It also had some disadvantages since every mistake I made, and there were many, was magnified by lots of trees. When challenges like various insects, diseases, weeds etc. hit and I sometimes either didn’t catch the problems soon enough or didn’t treat properly. The results affected a lot of trees. Most growers who start a farm from scratch have these same problems but learn a little at a time as the trees grow. My brother John came up with the idea of us starting another Christmas tree farm in Luray, closer to where he and I live. He had some land and we went into a joint venture, planting our first trees in 1989 of which we lost almost all to a drought. We tried again and had more success so “Valley Star Farm” was off to a start. The plan was to for John to do most of the work on this farm and be paid with the eventual profits. The profits were slim but John eventually did get paid back for some of his work. John moved to Florida in 2005 so I reluctantly bought his share of the Christmas Trees and somehow was able, with help, to take care of and run both farms.

The first few years were, as you might imagine, quite challenging. The “fun” was there but also a lot of work. I plodded along and thanks to 26Page 26 |

We raise and sell Scotch Pine, White Pine, Norway Spruce, Colorado Spruce, Canaan Fir, Concolor Fir and Douglas Fir at both farms. Our main emphasis is on Choose and Cut but we do sell some wholesale trees

when we have an excess. We sell wreaths, pine roping and other greenery decorations at our farm, some of which we make and some of which we buy for resale.

In 2002 we began raising and selling pumpkins plus many varieties of gourds and squash in 2002 at our Valley Star Farm location. This has grown to include a Corn Maze, Play Land area and additional products such as mums, apple butter, apples and other fall theme products. We don’t make much after figuring in the labor costs but we think it at least helps bring in more potential Christmas Tree customers and it is fun.

Overall I am glad I got into the Christmas tree business and have learned a lot along the way. I plan to continue growing trees for years to come at my Valley Star Farm that is close to home. At some point soon I may let my Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm go to have more time to fish and hunt as I approach retirement age. Dave Thomas, VCTGA News Journal –Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Photos Valley Star Farm Thanks to our Sponsors Thanks to our Annual Sponsors Photos Valley Star Farm of the VCTGA of the VCTGA Annual Meeting & Conference! Meeting & Conference!

awarded to a student is further-is Each year a $750who scholarship ing his or to hera education through atawarded student who is furthertendance at an ing his or heraccredited education college throughoratuniversity. The is avail-or tendance at anscholarship accredited college able to Virginia residents who are university. The scholarship is availrising junior, senior or graduate stuable to Virginia residents who are dents in forestry or hortirisingmajoring junior, senior or graduate stuculture. dents majoring in forestry or horticulture.Zone can be found at: Power Power Zone can be found at:

Power Zone Recognized The VCTGA recognized Jim Powerrecently Zone Recognized Higham and Power Zone of ChrisThe VCTGA recently recognized Jim tiansburg, Virginia for their Higham and Power Zone continuof Chrisous and generous our tiansburg, Virginia support for their of continuscholarship fund. Over the past four ous and generous support of our years Power Zone generously scholarship fund.has Over the past dofour nated Stihl for our years four Power Zonechainsaws has generously doannual raffle and Pure Sugar   tick   Ctrimmer andies   nated four StihlaSstring chainsaws for for our donations last’s year auction. annual raffle and a   These string trimmer for have us to raise overdonations $1500 last’senabled year auction. These   raise over $1500 for the scholarship have enabled us fund. to for theyear scholarship Each a $750fund. scholarship is

Thanks to these Sponsors!!! Thanks–toBeverage these Sponsors!!! Kubota Tractor Farm Bureau Tractor Kubota – Beverage Farm FarmCredit Bureau Howey Equipment Farm Credit Kelco HoweyIndustries Equipment TNI Packaging Kelco Industries Crop TNI Protection Packaging Crop Protection

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VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

Made in  VCirginia   909   Helms   andy  sCince   o.,  I1nc.   Bristol,     By:   VA    24202   Helms  Candy   Co.,  Inc.     Ph.   276-­‐669-­‐2612   Bristol,   V A     2 “The  Official   Candy  o4202   f  Christmas”   Ph.  276-­‐669-­‐2612   Made   in  Virginia  since  1909  

VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012 VCTGA News Journal – Fall 2012

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383 Coal Hollow Rd Christiansburg, VA 24073-6721 383540-382-7310 Coal Hollow Rd Christiansburg, VA www.Virginia 24073-6721 540-382-7310 www.Virginia

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VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal  

Fall 2012, News Journal for Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association members

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