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VIRGINIA VIRGINIA VIRGINIA CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS TREE TREE TREE GROWERS GROWERS GROWERS ASSOCIATION ASSOCIATION ASSOCIATION Inside this Issue: Inside this Issue: Save the Date! − 2

News Journal for Virginia Grown Christmas Trees Published by the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association Volume 2, Issue 2

Volume1,2,Issue Issue 31 Volume

Experience a Real Tree!

Inside this Issue:

Your Marketing Grant A Capitol Christmas −2 Dollars at Work − 2 VCTGA Board 3 Marketing Materials - 2 Meet in the Valley − 3− 4 Presidentially Order Form -Speaking 3 Presidentially Speaking ‘Angry Mob’ Derails− 4 VCTGA Board -Thanks! 4 Trees for Troops Promotion Program − 5− 6 Presidentially Speaking -5 StateNCTA Fair Bankruptcy Position on− 7 StepsGrant forTree Change - 5− 5 − 6 Progress Report Checkoff VCTGA Good Things Marketing −68 − 6 Grant ProgressTips Report Neel Receives Awards - 6− 8 Fertilizer Experiments Member Profile: VCTGA Board Priorities Minutes Highlights - −8 8 Tall Tree Farm andRecipient Minutes 12 Can the Family− Farm Scholarship -9 Scouting Survive? −- 12 SponsorSpring Thanks! 9 Schedule −- 9 16 Marketing Meeting Five Survey Trees to Wholesale? −- 17 “Quick Fixes” − 12 Memories - Fred Wagoner 10 Boxwood Blight Alert −−17 Websites #1 Marketing 14 Virginia Farming 14 Real Tree Marketing Becoming a Fan ChristmasMaterials Tree Month -−14 for You 18 of Facebook − 15 Mt. Rogers Featured Seed Orchard - 15 Member: Shearing Techniques Improve Farm - 15 Moose Apple Fir Christmas forMarketing Fraser − 17 Becoming a “Fan” 17 − 20 Tree Farm −- 19 VA Farming Changes Good/Bad Tree? - 18−−2320 4TREES License VAC New Website Saveinthe Date! National Updates - 10! 20 − 22 Virginia Top August 23-25 License − 22, 23 Trees4TREES For Troops - 22 in Waynesboro 23 23 Trees For Troops What’s “TIP” - 26−− 22, First Tree Cutting Contest Winners - 27− 23 Real Tree Promotions − 23

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Advertisers Bosch’s Countryview Nursery − 7

Advertisers Tree- Teck Kelco 7 −9 Christmas Hill Bosch’s − -6−99 Strathmeyer Forests Carroll Resource Christmas Hill Tree Teck - 11 − 7 MgtTeck − 10− 7 Tree Christmas Hill - 11 Cherokee Cherokee Mfg Mfg.−11 −9 RiversideAlpha Enterprises - 11 Alpha Nursery Nursery −− 13 11 Alpha Nursery −- 13 15− 13 TimKelco Mitchell Bosch’s Riverside Countryview Nursery −− 15 Riverside Enterprises Enterprises 15 - 16 Tim Mitchell’s Kelco − 15Yule Stand System TimFlickinger’s Mitchell - 21− 21− 21 Nursery AdWagoner’s - Fraser Cherokee Mfg Knoll - Fraser 25 − 24 Knoll − 24 Fraser Knoll - 28

Spring2012 2012 Winter Fall 2011

Governor Bob McDonnell accepts the official state Christmas tree from Virginia and John Carroll on December 12 at the front of the governor’s mansion. The Carroll’s were the winners of the VCTGA Christmas Tree Contest at the VCTGA Annual Paris Rasnic, Meeting in August and earned the honor of presenting the official treeMoose this year. Apple Jocelyn Lampert also presented the official wreaths and Bill and MaryChristmas Apperson preTree Farm, sented holly and evergreens for decorations. (Additional photos next page). featured farm (Photos Courtesy of Michaele White, Governor’s Photography)

Save the Date: aAugust 23-25! Experience Real Tree!

VCTGA News Spring News Spring VCTGAVCTGA News Journal Journal –Journal Winter––2012 2012 VCTGA News –Journal Winter 2012 2012

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Save The Date!

Contributing and Coordinating Editors Membership Jocelyn Lampert Technical Support & Production John Carroll & Kyle Peer Mount Rogers Report Charlie Connor Pathology & Disease Norman Dart Pests Eric Day

Your (or Our) Marketing Grant Dollars at Work Through marketing Grant, VCTGA was able to engage the services of a professional graphic designer to work with the board in producing the following: 1 10,000 5,000 1 125 125

New VCTGA Log (see cover) "Experience a Real Tree" color brochures produced "Buy and Sell Real Trees" color brochure produce "Experience a Real Tree" vertical pop-up color promotional screen "Experience a Real Tree" banners produced "Experience a Real Tree" signs

VDACS at Work for YOU (US)     

Providing expertise, support, and leadership Publishing the Virginia Grown Christmas Tree Guide Distributed the guides and our new brochures at state welcome centers and consumer events Creating and distributing press releases Posting information on Virginia Christmas trees on statewide websites

VDACS Support & Updates Danny Neel Dave Robishaw Marketing, Promotion, & Social Media Sue Bostic Grant Updates Sue Bostic, Greg Lemmer Editor in Chief - Jeff Miller Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association Inc. 383 Coal Hollow Rd. Christiansburg, VA 24073-6721 PH: 540-382-7310 Fax: 540-382-2716 secretary@Virginia ChristmasTrees.org

www.VirginiaChristmasTrees.org

A BIG VCTGA Thank You to Danny Neel, Dave Robishaw, and all the other folks at the VDACS team in Richmond and around the state! 2 Page 2 |

VCTGAVCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012 News Journal – Spring 2012


Meet in the Valley: Expanding Markets in 2012 VCTGA Annual Meeting & Conference August 23-25 Waynesboro Best Western Inn and Conference Center

Alex White, Virginia Tech, will once again be with us to help us develop a better bottom line for our business.

If you are looking for information on the production side of the business you will not be disappointed. We’ll have a preconference workshop on Thursday morning entitled “So you want to grow Christmas Trees?” for new, intermediate, or struggling growers. This workshop will feature experienced VCTGA and Va Tech Extension speakers on site selection, tree species, labor, equipment needed, risks and profitability.

We’ll also have a couple of grower panels later in the meeting, featuring one on “Brags and Blunders”.

We always have great wreath workshops and this year will be no exception. Come and learn not only how to increase your profits by crafting beautiful seasonal wreaths but also how to put on a high end wreath making workshop at your farm or other locations.

Whatever you are planning for the summer make sure you include reserving August 23-25 for our Annual VCTGA Membership Meeting in Waynesboro. We are going back to the Best Western, which worked very well for us in 2010.

The focus for the meeting this year will be “Expanding Markets” featuring several interesting speakers. 

Highlighting the program will be Wade Butler providing “A Virtual Tour of Butlers Orchard” a third generation agritourism enterprise growing fruit, vegetables, Christmas trees, and other products in Germantown, Maryland.

A representative from NCTA will provide an analysis of the 2011 sales season and identify future consumer trends and marketing challenges.

Greg Lemmer and others are working hard on a new VCTGA website that will be showcased during the meeting.

 VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

Part of the fun of attending the annual meetings is the social and networking opportunities. They will be abundant in Waynesboro with a “Marketing Luncheon” highlighting our Specialty Crop Grants on Thursday at noon, and then later that day a unique venue for our traditional Thursday evening dinner.

The Friday evening banquet will be held at the Waynesboro Country Club and the famous Prime Rib will be back by popular demand. Please don’t forget the annual scholarship auction and remember to bring items for the auction and a pocketful of money for all of those things you can’t live without.

One of the highlights of the meeting is the tree and wreath contest. We’ll be showcasing our products inside this year so please bring several trees and wreaths and remember you are allowed a tree for each species category plus a decorated and undecorated wreath (check the rules before you enter). The meeting will conclude with a tour of Dave Thomas’ Evergreen Farm and possibly another nearby agritourism enterprise. Please make plans now to join fellow growers, technical advisors, and our loyal vendors at our annual meeting this year. The Best Western in Waynesboro is ready to accept your reservations. Rooms are $84.99 and we need to use 75 room nights to get the use of the conference facility at no charge. Reservations can be made at (540) 294-4141. Please make sure they know you are attending the VCTGA meeting.

Hope to see you there!!! By John Carroll, Program Chair

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Presidentially Speaking… From the President When I was a teenager, I was quite taken with the idea of becoming a professional journalist. I attended numerous conferences (some on college campuses- big deal for rural farm girl), co-edited the high school paper, researched and wrote articles for the school paper and the local weekly paper. Well, that young passion, dare I say dream, came and went, but I still have engrained in me the “KEY” components of writing an article, telling a story or presenting an idea. That KEY as many of you know involved the BIG 5 W’s- that’s who, what, when, where, and why. (You might also add how and how much to the mix, making the equation 5 plus 1.) Well, VCTGA is making significant strides in creating, cultivating, and growing a better climate to increase the awareness and sales of Real Virginia Grown Christmas trees. The mindset is in place and with the considerable assistance of some well-timed grant money we are posed to truly make an impact. Some, may say “Why, bother?” or “What’s in it for me?”…“I’m selling all my trees”. From initial accounts, the choose and cut market was pretty good last season. Was that good fortune by some an accident? I think not. Of course the weather was great for consumers looking for farm outings and there was a good amount of publicity and media buzz for the industry. Christmas trees were definitely “on the radar” for media people. You might say the season was jump started by the ill-timed release of the “check-off” program (i.e. “Obama’s tax on Christmas trees”). We, the growers, were inundated with calls and e-mails from media folk clamoring for responses, interPage 4

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views, and statements creating what might be termed “media frenzy”. Ready or not that was the story that ushered in our selling season. Along the way, we had some very positive support in 2011: 

Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, worked a trip to a choose and cut farm into a very busy schedule, bringing his family to cut a Virginia Grown Christmas tree. Commissioner Matt Lohr and son were pictured on the cover of the Virginia Grown Christmas Guide (a picture taken from his family outing from the previous year). Inside the guide’s cover was a great letter of support attesting to the significance of the family tradition of cutting a real Virginia Grown Christmas tree and the experiences.

Commissioner Lohr did onsite Christmas tree planting creating a photo-opportunity and the chance to tell our story at a time of the year other than Christmas.

Governor Bob McDonald issued a proclamation declaring December “Christmas Tree Month” in Virginia.

Governor McDonald received the trees, wreathes, and greenery in person at the Governor’s Mansion.

The governor’s staff and VDACS did a tremendous job of posting pictures of the cutting, the presentations in front of the mansion, and the decorations on numerous state websites.

You might say what luck or what great luck! Although luck was involved (you never really know what media will choose to cover) and may have contributed to these good

things, it is much more likely that some behind the scenes, good oldfashioned hard work contributed to much of this. So how did all this really come about? There was a plan unfolding. Remember that strategic planning session held not so long ago? Some of the targeted areas are already seeing some well-orchestrated results. Here are but a few (please note the highlighted words): 

We wanted to foster better relationships with VDACS, the Virginia Agribusiness Council, Virginia Green Industry Council, and other partners.

We are currently receiving funds from two separate grants allowing us to develop strategic marketing approach and resources.

With the help of VDACS we have and continue to work on timely news releases telling the story of and promoting real Virginia Grown Christmas trees, including working with the Governor and First Lady’s staff to coordinate the presentation go the trees, wreaths, and greenery at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond.

With the help of VDACS and their marketing specialists, we’re increasing the awareness of and the viability of marketing Virginia Grown Christmas trees.

Through funds made available from a marketing grant, we’ve attended two major events since Christmas 2011 promoting the sale of real Virginia Grown Christmas trees. We had representation at MANTS in Baltimore, Maryland and at the National Ruritan Convention in Raleigh, North Carolina. Grant moneys not only help fund in getting there, but also provided the resources to increase the size and effectiveness of our marketing “tool box”. We’ve VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


already mentioned the annually produced Virginia Grown Christmas Tree Guides, but we were also able to hire a professional graphics designer to work alongside us in developing and producing two new brochures “Buying and Selling” Christmas Trees and “Experience a Real Tree” designed for promoting real Virginia Grown Christmas trees, along with the banners and signs which many of you have already used at your places of business. Yes, that as that awareness and promotions increase and as the desire of the public to find and purchase real evergreen products sales will grow. Now, not everyone will venture to a real choose and cut farm, nor will all our choose and cut farms be able to solely meet that demand. We need to look for new innovative ways to “bring the farm or the mountain” to the consumer. Some of you may have seen, heard of, or read online the story featuring Christmas trees that was in the 2011 Washington Post. That article took us, the readers, on the road the telling the story of the seed coming from Mt. Rogers to a farm in North Carolina to the corner store in Washington, D.C. to the family’s home. We need more stories like that, taking us from “field to home” or from “mountain to home”.

showplace for our industry. We need to present ourselves well. As president of VCTGA I’m passionate about the opportunities I see unfolding before us. We have a strong board of directors and the new ideas of beginning growers and board members along with the wisdom and expertise of experienced growers working for our association and our industry. Let each of us along with our farms and businesses provide the “face” of our industry. Together we can produce a quality product, market and sell a quality product, and continue to nurture, promote, and provide the experiences expected and hoped for by our customers with all the warmth and nostalgia that we can muster!

Virginia Chisholm Carroll, VCTGA President

National Christmas Tree Association Update As I write this report, I feel like I am updating my best friend on the last three episodes (that she missed) of Survivor. So, bear with me if you've seen all of the episodes. Consumers reported purchasing 30.8 million Real Christmas Trees in 2011. This is an increase of 14% from the previous year. What great news for the Real Tree industry! There was a slight decrease in purchase price making the average cost per tree $34.87. I believe this may be the result of people buying a smaller size. The artificial industry had an increase of 16% over the previous year selling 9.5 million in 2011. So there is still a lot of work to be done to promote Real Christmas Tree sales. These stats were results of the annual consumer poll conducted by Harris Interactive and announced recently at the CT Plus Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

Yes, marketing is essential- it’s a given, just as the production of a quality product is essential. We’re already on the course. We simply have to continue moving forward. External factors will continue to impact our industry during both the stages of production and selling season every year. We’ll have to contend with and adapt to weather challenges, gas prices, economy realities, and negative publicity. We can’t really control these elements. We can, however, control the story and the stories we tell. Each of us is the face of Virginia Christmas tree farm and each of our farms is a

I have great news to share. In 2011, Trees for Troops delivered more than 19,000 Real Christmas Trees to military families across the U.S. and around the world. We reached our goal of 100,000 trees delivered since 2005. The program received a great deal of media coverage in 2011. If you want to receive a blessing, take the time to go on the website (www.treesfortroops.org) and click (www.treesfortroops.org) under READ/SEND MESSAGES to see photos and messages from the military families. If you are a Facebook user, please visit www.facebook.com/trees4troops to www.facebook.com/trees4troops see more stories and photos. Virginia Christmas Tree Growers contributed 1,395 trees in 2010. Our goal for 2011 was 1,465 and we surpassed it with a total of 1,634 Christmas Trees. That is 1,634 families that had the opportunity to experience a "Real Virginia Christmas Tree"! I would like to personally thank John Carroll for coordinating the program in Virginia last

VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

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VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

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A Special Thank You to those who participated in the 2011 Trees For Troops Program Anne & Eddie Blevins Christmas Tree Farm, Eddie Blevins A&R Tree Farm, Rose Costanzo Bluff Mountain Trees, Brad Reedy Carolina Fraser Fir Co. LLC, Mike & Cherie Shatley Claybrooke Tree Farm, John & Virginia Carroll Cumbia’s Trees Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm, Jimmy Culpepper Glengary Tree Farm, Tom O’Halloran H & B Tree Farm, Chris Irmen High Country Tree Farm, Steve Price Macy’s Trees Mt. Rogers Christmas Tree Farm, Rodney Richardson Oak Shade Farm, Jim & Sally Mello Piney Mountain Tree Farm, Wayne Bowman Rosser Family Christmas Trees, John & Marty Rosser Severt's Tree Farm, Carlos & Sherrie Taylor Snowflake Mountain Trees, Jack & Carla Davis Twin Fir Farms, Duane Clemons Valley Star Farm, Dave Thomas Willow Springs Tree Farm, Greg Miller Windrush Farm, Tracy Nedza York Ridge Nursery, Ronnie Cooper

season. Nominations are now open for the Christmas SPIRIT Awards, which recognize exceptional efforts in advancing the Christmas spirit for kids, families and the environment. Awards are available in five categories: Community, Industry, Military and the National Christmas SPIRIT Award.

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Nominations are due by April 15, 2012. In December, the Real Tree industry celebrated the first annual “National Christmas Tree Week,” as declared by a resolution of the U.S. Senate. With some encouragement from NCTA, ANLA and others in the industry, the

resolution was passed unanimously on November 30 and recognizes the many benefits of Real Trees and their impact on the U.S. economy. This is a great talking point for the industry, as it can be celebrated each year during the first full week of December. At this time there is no checkoff program in place for 2012. Although announced as a final rule in November 2011 by USDA, it was quickly iced by an unlikely turn of events. The program was incorrectly labeled by the media as a "tax on Christmas Trees by the Obama administration". The end result was that it was not in effect for the 2011 season, meaning there will be no assessments due on the crop just sold and there will be no checkoff funds available to market Real Trees for the 2012 season. While the checkoff is not a NCTA program, the association has been following the issue closely over the past few years and acted quickly to help stop the spread of misinformation, including issuing a statement and responding to media throughout the season. NCTA has also been in close communication with USDA and other commodity groups to get more information for the industry. This means that the industry will be relying on voluntary funding to carry out NCTA’s protection and promotion efforts this year, from responding to media calls to addressing regulatory issues to continuing our work for fair fire codes. By making your contribution early in the year, we can ensure this valuable work is carried out on behalf of the industry and reduce the amount that is spent on fundraising. There are many Christmas tree operations that may be affected by the Proposed child labor rules that are now under consideration by the U.S. Department of Labor. If you were busy getting ready for harvest, you may have missed this news. Last October, the U.S. Department of Labor published a notice to extend comments regarding changes to child labor rules. They received over 10,000 comments as well as Congressional letters. The

VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


most significant proposals would prohibit young hired farm workers under the age of 16 from operating any power-driven equipment. Currently, a 14 and 15 year old worker may operate equipment after completing a safety course offered by 4-H or if they are enrolled in a vocational agricultural training program. Please note, I am only giving you a small piece of the pie. This is all "proposed" and still under consideration. I encourage you to take some time and research this topic for more information. Now, my challenge to you: keep promoting Real Trees through your website, Facebook, Twitter, and newsletters; make plans to participate in Trees for Troops for the 2012 season and do a little research online on some of the issues that will affect our industry. Sherrie Taylor, Severt’s Tree Farm sherrie@severtstreefarm.com

SFVA Inc. Converts from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lenders rejects SFVA's offer to purchase The Meadow Event Park

March 7, 2012 (Doswell, VA) SFVA Inc., the not-for-profit organization that produces the State Fair of Virginia, today converted its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in Richmond District Court. As a proposed resolution to emerge from the

Chapter 11 process, SFVA offered to buy the 360-acre Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia from the lender group of secured creditors (made up of lead lender Arbor One, 13 farm credits and the USDA). On March 5, the lender group rejected the offer and refused requests to produce a counter-offer. Because of the secured creditors' decision not to accept the offer, SFVA Inc. was forced into bankruptcy. As a result of this action, there will be no further events produced by SFVA Inc., including the Strawberry Hill Races, the State Fair of Virginia and the Meadow Highland Games & Celtic Festival. Additionally the privately scheduled events at The Meadow Event Park will not be able to take place. "As chairman of SFVA, I am deeply saddened and disappointed by the lenders' decision. We worked dili-

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Fall List for Fall 2010 2011 and and Spring Spring 2011 2012 Wholesale Wholesale Price Price List for

Quality Seedlings & Transplants Age

Size

Per 100 Rate

Per 1,000 Rate

Age

Size

Per 100 Rate

Per 1,000 Rate

FRASER FIR (3-0) 6-12” $45.00 $225.00 (2-2, PL+2) 8-15” $100.00 $725.00 (3-2, PL+2) 10-18” $110.00 $750.00 (P+3) 12-22” $125.00 $850.00

WHITE SPRUCE - Lake States (2-0, 3-0) 9-15” $40.00 $175.00 (2-1, 2-2) 15-20” $90.00 $595.00 (2-2) 15-24” $110.00 $750.00 (X-LG) 20-30” $250.00 $1,600.00

BALSAM FIR (2-0) (P+1) (P+2)

5-10” 8-14” 10-18”

$40.00 $195.00 $86.00 $575.00 $110.00 $750.00

NORWAY SPRUCE - Lake States (2-0, 3-0) 9-15” $40.00 $175.00 (2-1, 2-2) 15-24” $90.00 $650.00 (X-LG) 20-30” $250.00 $1,600.00

CANAAN FIR (P+1) (P+2)

8-14” 10-18”

$90.00 $115.00

BLACKHILL SPRUCE (2-0) 5-12” (2-1) 8-14” (2-2) 8-15” (2-2) 12-18”

DOUGLAS FIR - Lincoln (2-0, 3-0) 9-15” (2-1) 12-18”

$595.00 $795.00

$40.00 $175.00 $86.00 $575.00

CONCOLOR FIR (2-0) 5-12” $45.00 $225.00 (2-1, P+1) 8-14” $90.00 $595.00 (2-2, P+2) 12-18” $115.00 $795.00 COLORADO BLUE SPRUCE - San Juan & Kiabab (2-0, 3-0) 9-15” $40.00 $175.00 (2-1, 2-2) 10-16” $75.00 $495.00 (2-2, P+2) 10-18” $110.00 $750.00 (X-LG) 15-24” $250.00 $1,600.00

VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012 Ad_1_BW.indd 1

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

$40.00 $75.00 $95.00 $110.00

$175.00 $495.00 $695.00 $750.00

SERBIAN SPRUCE (2-0) 8-14” $45.00 $225.00 (2-1, P+1) 8-14” $90.00 $595.00 (2-2, P+2) 12-18” $115.00 $795.00 AUSTRIAN PINE (2-0) 5-12” (1-2) 12-18” RED PINE - Lake States (2-0) 4-8” (2-0, 3-0) 5-12”

$40.00 $175.00 $115.00 $795.00 $35.00 $150.00 $40.00 $175.00

Age

Size

Per 100 Rate

Per 1,000 Rate

WHITE PINE - Lake States (2-0) 4-8” $35.00 $150.00 (2-0, 3-0) 5-12” $40.00 $175.00 (3-0) 8-15” $45.00 $225.00 (2-1) 8-14” $82.00 $550.00 (2-2) 12-18” $110.00 $750.00 (X-LG) 18-24” $250.00 $1,600.00 SCOTCH PINE - Scothighland + French (2-0) 6-12” $35.00 $165.00 (2-0, 3-0) 9-15” $40.00 $175.00 WHITE CEDAR (2-0) (3-0) (2-1) (2-2, P+2)

4-8” $40.00 $195.00 8-15” $45.00 $225.00 8-14” $82.00 $550.00 12-18” $110.00 $750.00

ARBORvITAE - DARK GREEN, TECHNY, EMERALD & GREEN GIANT (RC+1) 6-12” $110.00 (RC+2) 12-18” $140.00

$750.00 $950.00

10-20% Discount on orders over 10,000 plants For complete list please write or call us. Brian Bosch / Owner

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gently with multiple parties to present the secured creditors with a reasonable offer to purchase The Meadow, and thus allow the 156year-old tradition of the State Fair of Virginia to continue. Unfortunately, that offer was rejected. Apparently, the secured creditors have other unknown plans for the property," said G. William Beale, SFVA Board of Directors Chairman and CEO - Union First Market Bank. Since 1989, the State Fair of Virginia Scholarship Program has awarded 2,439 scholarships and has dedicated over $1.8 million to youth education. It is SFVA's understanding that these funds will, under the guidance of a bankruptcy court-appointed trustee, be sent to Virginia Tech's foundation for administration and distribution. SFVA's scholarship funds were managed separately from the investment portfolio used as collateral to secure the loan to develop The Meadow Event Park. "While the outcome of this very difficult situation is extremely disappointing, I am heartened by the support we have received from thousands of well-wishers, Caroline and Hanover County officials, the dedication of our staff, and the partners who have stood by SFVA. We worked hard to create a positive outcome in spite of trying economic times and a uniquely complex situation," said Curry Roberts, President of SFVA Inc. The lender group opposed providing severance packages to the remaining 17 SFVA staff members, and as of today, all SFVA staff have been removed from payroll and benefit plans. SFVA Inc. requested the creditors release the rights to the State Fair of Virginia, Meadow Highland Games & Celtic Festival and Strawberry Hill Races. The fate of these events and the property will be determined by the Chapter 7 process

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and ultimately up to the courtappointed trustee. The secured creditors are made up of the United States Department of Agriculture, Arbor One of Conway, SC; Regions Bank of Greenville, SC; Farm Credit Bank of Texas of Austin, TX; AgTexas of Lubbock, TX; Farm Credit Services of Grand Forks of Grand Forks, ND; Capital Farm Credit of Bryan, TX; AgStar Financial Services of Mankato, MN; Farm Credit Services of MidAmerica of Louisville, KY; Ag Credit of Fostoria, OH; Carolina Farm Credit of Hendersonville, NC; Valley Farm Credit of Winchester, VA; Farm Credit of the Virginias of Staunton, VA; Farm Credit of Southwest Florida of Arcadia, FL

Marketing Tips The Massachusetts Christmas Tree Association and the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York recently posted a link on their site to a fun article about Christmas Tree Farms. The article is entitled "Cut and Choose your own adventure" and can be seen on their websites via these links

http://www.christmas-trees.org/ http://www.christmas-trees.org/ http://www.christmastreesny.org/res http://www.christmastreesnrv.org/ ources/index.html resources/index.html The article serves as a nice endorsement for the Christmas tree industry and encourages people to engage in a fun family tradition, cutting down a tree. Jake Jake Witham, Witham, Jake Jake Witham, Witham jake@merrystockings.com jake@merrystockings.com C: 651.503.4236, Toll-Free: C: 651.503.4236, 888.764.2271 Toll-Free: 888.764.2271 www.MerryStockings.com www.MerryStockings.com

Three Fertilizer Experiments By Steve Rhoades

Fertilizing Christmas trees involves significant expenses to the grower and has the potential to pollute surface and groundwater. Moreover, the majority of the scientific studies that I have read on nitrogen fertilization of Christmas trees has found that fertilization does not benefit trees in most respects such as growth, number of buds, and length of terminal and lateral leaders. The one exception to these findings of no benefit is that most of these studies found that tree color is improved by nitrogen fertilization. I reported on these research findings previously in Pines and Needles (Winter 2006 and Winter 2010). In view of the general lack of benefit from, and the various costs of, fertilization, it seems to make sense to try and determine whether my trees might benefit from the addition of fertilizer rather than automatically carrying out a regular fertilizing program. I want to report on five separate field experiments with fertilizer that I carried out over the past three years. Newer growers may be most interested in the findings, because they may not yet have developed a habit or routine of fertilization. Even longer-term growers who have been fertilizing their trees regularly may be interested in view of the scientific findings, the high and ever rising costs of fertilizing, and the fact that they can do some simple experiments to determine for themselves whether or not their trees may benefit from fertilization. A simple way for most Christmas tree growers to determine whether their trees might benefit from fertilization is to have a soil analysis done and to conduct small experiments with their own trees. As most of you know, for a soil analysis, send a small soil sample to the Virginia VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


Cooperative Extension Service at Virginia Tech. The results you receive in the Soil Report will indicate whether the levels in your soil of phosphorous (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) are High (H ), Medium (M ), or Low (L ). Regardless of the fertilizer recommendations conspicuously printed on the front of the Soil Report with your test results, it is very important to read the detailed print on the back of the sheet. There you will find, amongst the detailed print, the information that you need to make an informed decision about whether your trees may benefit from fertilization. It says that “When soils test Medium, plants sometimes respond to fertilizer. When soils test High to Very High, plants usually do not respond to fertilizer.” (my emphasis) As I understand this, even if my soil tests only Medium, there is a fairly good chance that my trees won’t respond to fertilizer, and the

odds are high that they won’t respond if the test results show a High rating. This information, however, is at odds with the recommendations that are presented conspicuously on the front of the sheet. For example, most of my fields test somewhere in the High range, and here and there a particular nutrient will test out at M. Nevertheless, the Soil Reports that I receive recommend that I apply fertilizer to these fields. But, based on the detailed print on the back of the Soil Report, my trees are not likely to respond to fertilizer. So to repeat, it is very important to read the detailed print on the back of the Soil Report sheet to decide whether your trees may benefit from fertilizer rather than relying on the recommendations for fertilizer presented with the results on the front of the sheet. A little extra time reading may save you quite a bit of time and money!

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VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

Because most of my fields test somewhere in the High range, and some in the Medium range, I see no reason to incur the costs and possibly contribute to water pollution by fertilizing my trees. However, because the soil analysis does not include results for nitrogen (N), which would require a foliar analysis rather than a soil analysis, I won’t know whether my field has sufficient N for growing nice trees. Rather than automatically fertilizing with N just to be safe or just in case the trees might benefit, I can make a more informed decision about whether or not to apply N by conducting a simple field experiment. So, after having a soil analysis done, this experimentation is the second step in determining whether trees may respond to the application of some kind of fertilizer. Below, I report on five field experiments that I carried out beginning in 2008. By the way, an earlier experiment that I conducted with N

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Experiment number one began on April 28, 2008. I applied a little over one ounce of urea (46-0-0) to a total of 265 trees. The amount of urea applied was based on N application rates recommended by the Extension Service in their “Soil Test Notes” pamphlet (March 1994). The trees involved included firs and spruces that had been in the ground two to seven years. I fertilized the first five or seven trees in odd-numbered rows in several different fields. For my control group of trees that did not receive any urea, I used trees in even-numbered rows adjacent to the rows of fertilized trees. A dense stand of vegetation between rows should have eliminated or at least greatly diminished the movement of N from the treated to the untreated rows. Over time, I compared the performance of the fertilized trees with trees of the same species in the control group. While I think I had a

rough but reasonable sample for my experiment, my evaluation of the effects of N fertilization was quite crude. For example, I did not count buds, take caliper measurements of the trunk or stems, or measure terminal or lateral leaders. Instead, throughout the remainder of 2008 and all of 2009, I periodically made a visual comparison of the fertilized and unfertilized trees in adjacent rows. By late 2009, I had not observed any difference between the firs and spruces that received N and those that did not. Experiment number two began on May 24, 2009. On that date, I applied a little over one ounce of urea to 235 trees, including both firs and spruces. Many, but not all, of these trees had been provided with urea the year before (April 28, 2008) in connection with experiment number one. I applied urea to the first five or seven trees in odd-numbered rows. Once again, my control group of

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unfertilized trees consisted of trees in even-numbered rows adjacent to the fertilized trees. I again evaluated the effects of N fertilization of my sample trees by periodic, visual comparisons of the trees in adjacent rows. By late 2010, I could not see any difference between the trees that had received an application of N and those that had not. It is worth noting that quite a lot of these trees were receiving an application of urea for the second year in a row and still no observable benefit can be reported. In connection with both experiments, I asked both my wife, Sharon, and son to look at the trees included in the experiment and to give me their evaluation. Neither observed any systematic difference between the fertilized trees and the control group. Experiment three was considerably different from the first two experiments. It began on July 27, 2009. I focused strictly on Canaan firs, a total of 120 trees, in two adjacent rows. The trees had been in the ground for three to eight years. I selected these rows because they contained a relatively high percentage of trees that did not look very good. Some had a faded out green color, some were rather sparse, and some were yellowish-green in the bottom 1/3 of the tree and more green in the upper 2/3. I recalled that one of our speakers at the 2008 annual meeting of the VCTGA had said that if the upper part of a tree is greener than the lower part, this may be a sign of a N deficiency. In hopes of improving the appearance of these Canaan firs, I applied a relatively heavy dose of N in the form of three ounces of urea. After more than a year, I did not observe any change in these trees. They still looked kind of sorry in comparison to a lot of nearby Canaans. I followed up the above three experiments with two smaller fertilizer experiments in the fall of

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VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


2010. Though the experiments were small, I thought the results were interesting. In the early fall of 2010, I was thinking about how my trees would look to customers during the approaching selling season. Some of my Canaan firs and white pines did not show as well as they might, because dead, brown needles in the interior of the trees were visible enough to diminish the green color of the trees. So, I went around and brushed the dead needles out. That really helped a lot, especially on some of the sparser Canaan firs. Nevertheless, quite a few of the Canaan firs were still rather palelooking and many of the white pines were a yellowish-green color.

is the only consistently found benefit from N fertilization reported by several studies on this subject. While hopeful, I remained skeptical, because in all of my fertilizer experiments to date, I had not observed any changes to my fertilized trees as compared to unfertilized control groups. But, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try N (urea) again on a few trees. On September 27, 2010, my son applied three ounces of urea (a relatively heavy dose) on the first five trees in rows 1, 3, and 5 of a white pine field. We had considerable rain the next day and several days later. I can report that by Thanksgiving, the fertilized white pines looked no different from all the other trees in the field.

In hopes of improving the looks of these trees for the selling season, I decided I would put some nitrogen (N) in the form of urea around some of these trees. I held out some hope for success because improved color

On October 3, 2010, I applied three ounces of urea to the first six Canaan firs in rows 1, 3, and 5 of a fir field. None of these trees had a nice green

color. I also applied urea to about 15 notably pale-looking Canaan firs that were scattered about in the field. These all happened to be trees that I had fertilized previously. I knew this because they still had the tags I had put on them to identify them. Rain did not come so soon after this fertilization, so some of the N almost certainly vaporized, but the trees still should have gotten some of the N. The results were disappointing. As with the white pines, the Canaan firs exhibited no improvement in color by Thanksgiving and the beginning of the selling season. Actually, I probably shouldn’t have been disappointed at all, and I certainly was not surprised. The numerous experiments that I have done with fertilizing my trees have consistently resulted in no improvement.

In conclusion, it appears that it makes little sense for me to apply any chemical fertilizer to my fields based on scientific studies I have read, soil tests that indicate that my

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VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

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fields have generally favorable nutrient levels, and several of my own experiments with applying N to the trees. I most certainly will continue to periodically examine my trees and note whether there are signs of nutrient deficiency. If I see some sign of a deficiency, I plan initially to fertilize only a small sample of trees to see if the trees respond, because the signs of a nutrient deficiency are not unlike the signs from other problems a tree might have, in which case fertilizing won’t solve the problem. These other problems include stress from either drought or too much water in the soil, the latter of which can be a serious problem in heavy soils. In the meantime, I am grateful for having relatively nutritious soil and certainly enjoy the saving in time and money that results from not carrying out a regular program of fertilizing my trees. Nevertheless, I intend to remain alert for tree problems that might be due to a lack of nutrients and to continue to take the very simple and inexpensive steps of having soil tests conducted and doing my own fertilizer experiments on a small sample of trees. Such an approach to tree nutrition might very well work for some other VCTGA members. It is notable that in the Winter 2000 issue of Pines and Needles, Richard Kreh, a VCTGA expert on Christmas trees, advised “maybe” regarding the question of whether to fertilize. His advice seems sound twelve years later. Not surprisingly, I don’t fertilize my trees. This means that the costs of labor and fertilizer go straight into my profits rather than my expenses. For me, it has certainly paid off to have a soil analysis done and do some experimenting with fertilizing my trees with N rather than embarking on a regular program of fertilizing. So, just by having your soil tested and conducting some simple field experiments, you might be able Page 12

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to save some money and reduce potential fertilizer run-off into surface or groundwater. Of course, your results may differ depending on your soil and the density of your tree planting, but it certainly seems worth finding out. By Steve Steve Rhoades, Rhoades, By Mountain View Mountain View Farm steve21@shentel.net steve21@shentel.net

VCTGA Board Identifies 2012 Priorities When asked at the first board meeting of 2012 to identify the single most important issue or priority facing VCTGA in 2012, board members submitted the following:

Marketing Website Membership Annual Meeting

Minutes Board Meeting 10 a.m., Monday, January 23, 2012 Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant, Staunton The meeting was called order at 10:11 a.m. by President Virginia Carroll with the following present: Jocelyn Lampert, Robert O'Keeffe, Dave Thomas, John Carroll, Danny Neel, Charlie Conner, Kyle Peer, Jeff Miller, Donna O'Halloran, Fred

Shorey, (absent: Derick Proctor, Sherrie Taylor). Approval of Minutes of previous meeting - a motion was made to approve the minutes of the October 3, 2011 board meeting, seconded and passed. Financial Report (conveyed prior to the meeting) – Jeff reviewed the highlights of the financial reports which had been emailed prior to the meeting. It was moved, seconded and passed to accept the reports as presented. Jeff gave each board member a copy of the ASAE Volunteer Leadership Magazine which is an annual special addition with articles that would benefit volunteer leaders. Membership update - Jocelyn - 70 paid, 37 not paid, 8 advisors, = 114 members. There has been one new member since the last meeting. Mt. Rogers Christmas Tree Growers: Joe Freeman was to follow up about the possibility of joint dues payment for both organizations. Virginia will contact Earl Deal and Charlie will contact John Rosser. (Sherrie and Della). Jocelyn will work with Fred Shorey to talk to them about benefits and the O’Halloran’s will work as mentors. A dues reminder will be emailed out to members who have not paid dues yet for 2012. Scholarship - Robert reported that he was updating the application due date on the website for the 2012 scholarships and was sending letters to VT Horticulture and Forestry Departments to notify students of these scholarships. Mt. Rogers Report - Charlie Conner reported that they plan to start grafting into the new seed orchard and there is still space for additional plantings. He noted that the box stores are taking a larger portion of tree sales and requiring palletized trees. He will provide an article on the spring grafting for Newsletter.

VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


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Size Age

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Colorado Bl. Spruce

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$38 $86 $122 $152

Picea pungens 'glauca'

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2-0 2-1 2-2 2-2

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White Spruce Picea glauca

Lake States

Norway Spruce Picea abies

Black Hills Spruce Picea glauca 'densata'

Serbian Spruce Picea omorika

10-18" 14-20"

2-0 2-2

$38 $105

$200 $660

20-30"

2-2

$136

$850

Abies fraseri

Roan Mountain

Balsam Fir Abies balsamea

Nova Scotia

Concolor Fir

10-18"

2-0

$39

$205

10-16" 14-18"

2-2 2-1

$88 $85

$550 $530

16-24"

2-2

$124

$775

8-16"

2-2

$88

$550

10-18"

2-3

$104

$650

10-16"

2-1

$92

$575

18-24"

2-2

$140

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6-12" 8-12"

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12-16"

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8-14" 10-16"

P+1 P+2

$110 $124

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VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

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Extension – Kyle Peer, Ed Jones and NC reps recently met and agreed that there is a serious need for shared technician for wholesale Christmas tree growers between the states. There is a possibility for a regional agent for several states (VA, NC, SC, GA, etc.) who could provide programing. Kyle may be able to get some travel funding. Kyle noted that the local board of supervisors sets the agenda for extension expertise based on local input. Also, sales seem to be up, but prices are low. News Journal – Virginia noted that there is a need for more technical information (ex. pull out to be saved, i.e. on shearing and other similar topics). Other suggestions were for articles on pruning young small trees, posting YouTube videos on things like this and info tips. Kyle will provide another scouting chart and Jocelyn will solicit another member profile article. Jeff asked for suggestions of advertisers for the News Journal who members do business with. Holiday News Promotions/PR – there has been lots of media attention this year. Negative media with the Tree Checkoff issues; positive with Secretary of Ag and Forestry, Todd Haymore, cutting the first ceremonial tree with photos on a lot of websites, news coverage and good coverage for Trees for Troops with an increase in tree donations. Virginia noted that Jeff Ishee had change jobs, but the programing sponsorship with “Virginia Farming” will be continuing. Promotional materials for members – Jeff reported that all members were shipped a 3’x7’ banner and a 18x24” rigid sign to use in their 2011 seasonal marketing. National Organization reportSherrie Taylor reported that it's not too late to make plans for CT Plus. Meet up with fellow tree growers in Page 14

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San Antonio, TX on February 18 and 19th. We’ll look at the results of the 2011 Harris Interactive consumer poll, review legislative successes and challenges for the coming year. In 2011, Trees for Troops delivered more than 19,000 Real Christmas Trees (our biggest year yet). The program also reached an important milestone – 100,000 trees delivered since 2005. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this program a success! Nominations are now open for the Christmas SPIRIT Awards, which recognize exceptional efforts in advancing the Christmas spirit for kids, families and the environment. Awards are available in five categories: Community, Industry, Military and the National Christmas SPIRIT Award. Nominations are due by April 15, 2012 – download a nomination form at the CSF website www.christmasspiritfoundation.org) or call 636/449-5060. 2012 NCTA Convention will be held in Sacramento, CA on August 8-11. There is no checkoff program in place for 2012. Although announced as a final rule in November 2011 by USDA, it was quickly iced by an unlikely turn of events. The end result was that it was not in effect for the 2011 season, meaning there will be no assessments due on the crop just sold and there will be no checkoff funds available to market Real Trees for the 2012 season. BUT THIS ISSUE IS NOT CLOSED. Many calls and emails have been made on behalf of our industry since December. We believe it has made a difference with the USDA. Stay tuned. On another note, Danny and Charlie did an excellent job representing the VCTGA at the MANTS Tradeshow. The booth looked great and a lot of

attendees are now very aware of the benefits of having a Real Tree from Virginia! 2012 Annual meeting: Waynesboro - John Carroll reported that the Program Team: John Carroll, Dave Thomas, Kyle Peer, Greg Lemmer (ex officio) and Fred Shorey were working on draft ideas for programing, possibly some speakers from Penn State. The meeting will be at the Best Western in Waynesboro with different venues for the Banquet and for the Thursday night dinner. Greg Lemmer will check out Hunter Hill, horse boarding facility that also does events about 10 miles from Staunton. The Friday night banquet will be at the Waynesboro Country Club. Options for field trip, how to wreath decorating workshops as fund-raisers or at farms and other topics were being considered.

Old Business Grant Updates – Jeff reported that approximately $13,000 in reimbursements had been requested from the USDA Specialty Crop grants. MANTS Report - Charlie and Danny staffed the VCTGA booth and reported good contacts and a very large positive show. It was moved to reimburse expenses or or provide a charitable gift receipt for a product, for members incurring expenses and/or providing materials for the display, seconded and passed. VDACS was able to cover expenses for Danny at MANTS and the Ruritan National meeting in Raleigh. Charlie reported that the MANTS show had grown, there were a lot of grower and dealers in Christmas trees, and lots of interest in wreaths and roping. Ruritan Report – Danny reported that everything had gone well for the VCTGA display at the Ruritan National meeting in Raleigh. Virginia has some potential contacts to folVCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


low up on marketing Virginia grown trees.

New Business Website Changes – Greg Lemmer reported that the website upgrade was a priority for 2012 based on the updated for Marketing Plan. He has talked to Todd Markham, Access, in Roanoke, who is relatively familiar with Christmas tree farms since he has worked with the Boys Home website. Jocelyn, Donna and Greg will meet with him in Staunton in a few weeks to review upgrade plans. It was suggested that the VDACS Christmas tree DVD be put on the website. Marketing Promotion - Virginia reported on the corporate tree event that they did for Volkswagen which went real well. The VCTGA needs to do more to promote larger growers and be innovative, as we are marketing a tradition; we need to

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VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

think out of the box. Donna agreed to answer questions about fundraising, send list of growers, who can sell trees for fundraisers, etc. whenever the VCTGA gets calls for this type of information. Winter/Spring Workshops (per grant) the purpose was to be a marketing event on a real Christmas tree farm closer to NOVA for potential organizations to attend. There was concern with membership understanding of the benefits of the grant. The consensus was to answer: How does it benefit me? How do you expect me to be part of it? With explanations of the benefit from each other marketing together, brokering trees/wreaths/roping, as well as a members-only marketing luncheon at the annual meeting, the possibly a regional fund-raising organizations, and exhibiting at other events. The goal is to market real trees and explain at annual meeting on how you

can make more money and be more profitable. Strategic Planning – There was a brief review of the Plan: Where are we now? Moving forward! The next VCTGA Board meeting will be April 2, in Staunton. Annual Meeting Planning, August 23-25. Adjourn 2 p.m. Respectively submitted, Jeff Miller, Sect/Treas.

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Spring scouting schedule for selected Christmas Tree species in Virginia.

Consult your VCE PEST Mangement guide ( Pub 456-017) for more complete information. Prepared by Kyle R Peer and Eric Day Species Frasier Fir Frasier Fir Frasier Fir Frasier Fir Frasier Fir Spruce Spruce Spruce Spruce Scotch Pine Scotch Pine Scotch Pine Scotch Pine Scotch Pine White Pine White Pine White Pine White Pine White Pine White Pine White Pine White Pine

Pest Bagworm Spruce Spider Balsam Twig White Grubs Balsam Woolly Adelgid Bagworm Gall Adelgids White Pine Weevil Spruce Spider Bagworm Pine Tortoise Scale Nantucket Pine Tip Moth Sawflies Pine Spittle Bugs Bagworm Pales Weevil White Pine Weevil Pine Bark Adelgid Needle Sheath Mite Pine Needle Scale Pine Spittle Bugs White Pine Aphid

Jan Scout

Feb

Mar

April

May

June

Scout Scout

Scout Scout

Scout Scout

Scout Scout

Scout Scout Scout

Scout

Scout

Scout Scout

Scout Scout

Scout Scout

Scout Scout

Scout Scout Scout

Scout Scout Scout Scout Scout Scout

Comments 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Comments

1, 6, 10, 15 Pick over winter, Chemical control mid-June 2, 9 Treat only if trees are waist high to year before sale, treat if the percentage of shoots with mites exceeds 20%. 3 Treat only if the trees are within 2 years of harvest 4 Maintain as much grass growing between the trees as possible as the white grubs prefer to feed on grass roots 5 The best time to scout is in July as the adelgids are covered with a white cottony wax and are easily observed, although the damage is observable in winter. 7 Look for small tufts of cotton like material at the base of buds. Treat with dormant oil in February or March 8,17 Look for resinous bleeding in late March or early April. Prune out and destroy infested tops in late June 11 Look for darkened patches or branches on the side or top of the tree 12 Look for small copper-colored moths flying from trees. For light infestations, simply shear off the damaged tip 13 Check the upper sections of pine tree for colonies of sawflies on the tips of lateral branches or on the leader. 14, 21 Look for spittle masses on shoots and trunk and for dead and yellow twigs 16 Treat the stumps in February or March with Asana where the tree was cut down less then one year ago, “first year stumps”. 18 Check for the white cottony wax on the trunk and twigs. If adelgids are present and more then 5% of tops are witch’s broomed consider treating. 19 Check trees in March by checking 10 needle bundles on 10 trees randomly selected in each block 20 Treat only if stunted growth, yellowing, or unsightly populations of scales are present 22 In May and June again scout for the aphids and mark trees for spot spraying or spray entire blocks if more then 5% of the trees are infected.

16 |

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


Do You Have Trees to Wholesale in 2012? The VCTGA is creating a comprehensive list of Virginia tree growers seeking to sell trees (what VCTGA previously called a Wholesale Buyers Guide). Then when we have calls from potential buyers, we can direct them to your farm. Please send the following info to the VCTGA Office: secretary@ secrevirginiachristmastrees.org or or tary@virginiachristmastrees.org fax: 540-382-2716 Listing should include: 1. Farm Name__________________ 2. Contact person _______________ 3. E‐mail _____________________ 4. Website ____________________ 5. Phone ______________________ 6. Mail address ________________ 7. Physical location _____________ 8. Product available a. Indicate Species type _____________________________ b. Indicate Grade of trees available _____________________________ c. Indicate quantity available ____________________________ 9. Delivery available? ____________________________

Boxwood Blight Alert Do you grow, buy or sell Boxwood for Christmas decorations? Boxwood blight (also called “box blight” in Europe), caused by the fungal pathogen Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum (=C. buxicola), was found for the first time in the United States in North Carolina, Virginia and Connecticut in 2011. Boxwood blight was first reported in the United Kingdom in the early to mid 1990’s and had spread through Europe and New Zealand by 1998. VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

The origin of the pathogen is unknown. The first reported infestation in the U.S. was in a North Carolina nursery and the disease was introduced to Virginia on plants from that nursery. It is not known how C. pseudonaviculatum was initially introduced to North Carolina. Spread outside the two Virginia locations, both of which are fields owned by a single nursery, has not been reported. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are implementing strategies to eradicate the pathogen from infested fields. However, growers should be aware of the symptoms of boxwood blight and monitor nursery and landscape boxwoods for symptoms. Symptoms, Signs and Impacts The fungal pathogen infects leaves and branches of boxwoods, causing light or dark brown leaf spots with a dark border, defoliation and dieback (Fig. 1). Infected branches develop long blackish-brown streaks on stems (Fig. 2). In warm, humid conditions the fungus produces clusters of white spores visible to the naked eye on the underside of leaves and on stems (Fig. 3). The fungus does not infect roots; thus, plants may regrow even after a severe infection. However, repeated defoliation and dieback can predispose plants to other diseases, such as Volutella blight, resulting in decline and eventual death. Although boxwoods are not typically killed directly by C. pseudonaviculatum, rapid defoliation renders boxwoods unmarketable and gardens unsightly. The pathogen thrives in humid environments, which are typically present in production nurseries and propagation houses. Once boxwood blight is established in production nurseries, regular use of fungicides is required to control

the disease; however, Cylindrocladium diseases are difficult to control with fungicides. The pathogen has caused significant damage to boxwoods in European landscapes, which suggests this disease can potentially damage historic boxwood gardens in Virginia. Biology All known species and varieties of boxwoods (Buxus spp.) are susceptible to C. pseudonaviculatum. The pathogen spreads by wind-driven rain or splashing water over short distances and is most infective during conditions of high humidity. The significance of spore dispersal by wind or air currents is not known but is likely limited to smaller scale distances such as between plants, within hoop houses, or within a field. Long distance spread of this disease occurs via movement of infected plants, infested plant debris, soil or equipment. Spores may also spread by insects or birds. The pathogen has been found to survive in leaf debris placed either on the soil surface or buried in the soil for up to 5 years. Tactics to Avoid Introduction of the Disease 1) Examine newly purchased plants and cuttings carefully for symptoms and closely monitor them for symptom development. 2) Isolate new plant material from other nursery stock for at least three weeks. Asymptomatic boxwoods or cuttings can harbor the pathogen and act as a “Trojan horse”. This time period should allow any earlier fungicide treatment to lose its protective ability and allow symptoms to develop on diseased material. 3) If boxwood blight symptoms are observed, report immediately to VDACS or your local county Virginia Cooperative Extension agent (http://www.ext.vt.edu/offices/). (http://www.ext.vt.edu/offices/).

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ble free to each member on request to the VCTGA office)

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 availa-

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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? Questions? secretary@VirginiaChristmasTrees.org secretary@VirginiaChristmasTrees.org or call call-540-382-7310 540-382-7310 or

VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


MOOSE APPLE, A Unique Type of Tree Farm Moose Apple Tree Farm - As we think back, the seeds of planning our Christmas tree farm were sewn back in the early 90s. We had combined Kathy's passion for everything Christmas and love of painting with Paris’s ability to build or create anything I could dream up and we formed a small craft business that was 75% Christmas based. Our home was filled with Santas, Angels, and snowmen at Christmas. Our rec room decor was planned so we could leave our handmade Santas and Christmas stuff out year round. In 1999 we begin the search for our semi-retirement property out of the DC suburban rat race. By this time we had decided why not combine our Christmas craft business with a cut your own Christmas Tree Farm. With this in mind, the research began in full swing. After months of walking properties in Loudoun, Fauquier, Culpeper, Clarke, and Frederick Counties, we narrowed the search to two properties in Clarke County, then chose our existing location based mainly on its gentle rolling topography, its panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountain/historic Shenandoah Farms, and easy access from the DC Metro Area (only 60 minutes to DC). We purchased the land in May 2000 and the real planning and work began! The 33 acres was a large field and was being farmed in corn and soybeans by a local farmer. We made arrangements with the farmer to continue farming the portion of our farm that was not going to be in the initial tree planting. Since the 33 acres was being farmed for years, there was minimal prep work in the fall of 2000 to get ready for spring VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

planting. After we mowed the fields to have a clean planting area, we laid out the plots where we wanted the various trees to be planted and where the house and barn would eventually be built. Stakes with orange ribbons were used to mark the plots. Unbeknownst to us, this disturbed the neighbors greatly. We are located in a very rural county and they assumed we were mapping out a new subdivision. The neighbors welcomed us with open arms after the tree planting was completed. During the fall of 2000 we ordered our first seedlings. We ordered 6,000 seedlings from the State of Virginia: 2,000 Norway Spruce, 2,000 Scotch Pine, and 2,000 White Pine.

Spring of 2001 came quickly. We targeted April 1 for the big event. The seedlings and planter were delivered by the Forestry Service and the Forestry Service gave us some pointers on using the planter and wished us luck. We had a team of 4 helping with the initial planting. My brother in-law drove the tractor, I rode the planter, and Kathy and one of my sisters prepped the seedlings. Even though we were novices, we completed the 9,000 seedlings in 2.5 days. Thanks to the root gel, we achieved excellent survival rates.

We also ordered 3,000 Seedlings from Needlefast: 1,000 Colorado Blue Spruce, 1,000 White Spruce, and 1,000 Douglas Fir. We were also able to rent a one row seedling planter via the Forestry Service office in Winchester for use during the Spring 2001 planting. One our best business decisions we made in the summer of 2000 was joining the Loudoun County Christmas Tree Growers Association. The Tree growers were extremely helpful and were encouraging as many new growers to get into the business as possible. By visiting many of their farms and participating in numerous hands on workshops, we would come away with tons of ideas including how to increase the survival rate of seedlings, trimming tips, and building a successful operation and business. Jim Clark, Roger Wolfe, and Lou Nichols are some of the LCCTGA members that were extremely helpful. One of the best tips we received was the recommendation for using a root gel for the seedlings. By using the root gel we have achieved better than 90% survival rate every year we had large plantings and sometimes better than 95%.

During the summer of 2001 we discovered a few problems in our plan. We lived about 42 miles to the east of the farm and would have to haul tractors and equipment to the farm each weekend. We quickly learned that the seedlings disappeared in the weeds and grass. We purchased several 6 horsepower, 2-wheeled string trimmers. They worked great, however the seedlings were buried in the grass and weeds. During the summer of 2001 we spent as much time looking for seedlings as we did mowing. We did tie orange ribbons to the seedlings and that was a huge improvement, but not enough. We accidentally killed more trees in 2001 than died from the drought. During the beginning of 2002 I attempted to use a Solo backpack sprayer to apply Roundup around the seedlings. The Roundup worked great, but my arm could not survive very long each day. Then we found Page 19

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the solution. We found a 4 gallon battery operated back sprayer that could spray 120 gallons on one charge. With the new sprayer I could spray between 3,000 and 4,000 trees a day. We finally started getting the weeds under control. During the fall of 2002 we planned our next big planting. I purchased a one row tree planter from Jim Clark in preparation. We ordered 7,000 seedlings for the spring planting. We liked the seedlings we received from Needlefast in 2001 and ordered all 7,000 from Needlefast in 2003. Planting went smoothly during 2003 and took only 2 days to complete. Since this also turned out to be a very dry year, the root gel saved us again. We exceeded 95% survival on all varieties. Some of our friends in Loudoun County had losses as high as 90% of their new plantings. We were very lucky. Now we had 16,000 trees in the ground to mow, spray, insect control, etc. Kathy was working full time in Real Estate. I was still working full time as a System Sales Engineer for a major computer company. We also still lived an hour from the farm. Pretty much every weekend involved going to the farm and mowing, spraying, etc. In 2003 and 2004 some of the trees were getting large enough that another problem appeared. During the fall deer rut season, many small trees were rubbed to oblivion. We followed Sue Bostic's advice on this one. Hunter's For The Hungry was the big winner on this one. We donate between 6 and 12 deer each year for the hungry. We will never eliminate the damage, only attempt to control it. One word of advice, do not remove all of the deer damaged trees. The bucks go after the trees where they can see the trunks. The damaged trees will attract attention year after year. Once trees get larger and fuller the deer damage drops off Page 20

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dramatically. Another recommendation is to plant White Pines around the boundary of the tree farm. The bucks attack the White Pines on their way in and do less damage to the more expensive trees. It was also in 2003 that we had to do some minor trimming of the Scotch Pines from the 2001 planting. We should have had to trim the White Pines also, but the deer had nibbled off the leader of all 2,000 White Pines during a snow storm in the winter of 2001-2002. The White Pines were all stunted and took some tender loving care to become good Christmas trees. The summers of 2004, 2005, and 2006 introduced the Pine Sawfly to our Scotch Pines. Living an hour away makes it difficult to control infestations. We have finally eliminated the Pine Sawfly and have not been bothered with them for 4 years. By 2004 and 2005 we were heavy into tree trimming. Since there are many tree trimming tools and techniques and we were not sure which would work for us, we opted to purchase a used Beneke trimmer and a used Sage trimmer to test and see which way we wanted to go. The Sage is 20 years old and needs a lot of maintenance due to its age. However, the Sage has become our primary trimmer. In 2009 we purchased a new Sage trimmer and rely upon it heavily. The old Sage is still the trusted backup. We also rely on an assortment of hand pruners, serrated knives, and long reach pruners for the taller trees. We have also purchased a new Beneke for special trimming. The Beneke is used mostly for basal trimming using the basal trimming attachment.

Now that the farm was started, we started planning our house and barn. We wanted to build a log home so we attended log home shows, reviewed log home magazines, etc. We started drafting the plans for our structures. We wanted a nice Christmas Store and had to decide whether to have a separate structure or add space on to our home we were planning. We decided to attach the Christmas Store onto our home to share electrical, water, phone, heat etc. While working on the house and barn plans we constructed our first structure on the farm, a 40x24 picnic pavilion. It gave us a place to relax out of the sun during the hot summer days of tree work. The picnic pavilion was also destined to be used by the customers when we opened for business. Today we have 4 picnic tables and I plan to build 2 more for a total of 6 for the 2012 season. We built a 2.5 story log siding barn in the Spring of 2007. The basement is for storing the tractors and most of the other Christmas tree equipment. The main floor is the wood shop for crafts for the Christmas Store and lots of lumber storage. The top floor is for lots of storage for crafts, etc. VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


With the completion of the barn we no longer had to haul equipment to the farm each weekend. Even though we lived only 1 hour away, the weather could be very different at the farm. We had to be prepared to do multiple activities when we arrived at the farm because the weather might prevent us from doing what we wanted to do. For example, we may need to be spraying weed killer and the wind may start blowing too hard. By storing much of the equipment in the barn, we could easily react to the weather and switch to other activities that needed to be done. “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up to make new trees.” - Lawrence G. Lovasik; Provided by Sue Bostic

In 2007 it was obvious that many of the trees were starting to get large enough and we needed to move in to the selling mode. We wanted to be living on the farm before we began selling so we intensified our planning on the house. We designed the log home and contracted with a log home company to manufacture the kit. A local builder started building the home in January 2008 with a targeted completion so that we could move in before the 2008 Christmas season. It was very hectic in 2008. Mowing, spraying, and trimming 16,000 trees while building a new home. Throw in the

added confusion of prepping our previous home for sale and selling it. A major issue did arise when our previous home sold 3 months before the new home was ready. Being resourceful, we rented a Winnebago and parked it at our new home and lived in the Winnebago for the last 3 months. It actually made life easier because I was at the farm almost all of the time. I was able to keep the contractor going and make any decisions immediately to keep progress moving. I was also able to work in the trees every day after my job ended. We obtained our occupancy permit Nov 1, 2008 and moved in immediately. After 3 very stressful weeks we opened for our first season the day after Thanksgiving in 2008. It was nice to finally see some money coming in after 8 long years of work. It was a tossup to decide whether we paid the fuel bill or the CPA with our first year's income!

Ad – Tim Mitchell’s Yule Stand System

VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012

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hundreds. One of my sisters, a talented seamstress, has designed and made tree skirts for us. We are also adding jams, honey, and syrups produced on some of the local farms. We are proud of the fact that 95% of everything we sell is made here on our farm or a local farm. Even our Christmas Tree Stands were designed by family members and are hand crafted by Kathy's brother! By implementing a lot of ideas we have learned as members of the VCTGA, our business continues to grow each year. Our website, www.MooseAppleChristmasTreeFarm www.MooseAppleChristmasTreeFar m.com , and Facebook page helped .com quadruple our business in 2010. We also increased our bottom line by learning to make beautiful wreaths and pine roping. After visiting Sue Bostic’s farm at the close of the 2011 VCTGA meeting, we made the decision to open our farm on weekends in October & November. We emailed past customers and posted the announcement on our website encouraging folks to come out, enjoy the Fall colors of the Shenandoah Valley, picnic, tag their tree, and even do some early Christmas shopping. We even added some fun Halloween crafts to our line. We had lots of takers and it was good advertising when families new to the farm saw all the “reserved” tags throughout the trees. With Paris's retirement in 2010, we were able to get back in to the craft business pretty heavy and are doing even more this year. The pieces we create range in price from $9.00 for Christmas ornaments to a life size outdoor Nativity Set created for a local church. One Old World Santa Claus Painting sells for $500. We are fortunate to have a very artistic daughter who recently moved back to the area and is creating beautiful stained glass and mosaic pieces for our Christmas Shop. Keeping every ones budget in mind, she has pieces ranging from $9 tree ornaments and sun catchers to custom designed pieces in the

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This is truly a family adventure! From the 1st planting in 2001 to the replants, trimming, mowing, spraying, bug control, harvesting, and sales it has been a family endeavor. Our daughters, sonin-law, grandsons, sisters, brother-inlaws, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends, have been there for us at every turn. Moose Apple is truly a family operation with over 24 family members helping out on the farm during 2011. I think they were afraid we would be living in their basements if the farm was not prosperous! We are both blessed to be from large extended families who were raised to be there for each other.

Our Mission Statement from the very beginning has been to create an atmosphere of fun that people want to return to year after year with their family and friends. We continue to review our operating systems for ways to improve it. If anyone is interested, we would be happy to show you our operation.

Paris & Kathy Rasnic, Moose Apple Christmas Tree Farm, 2425 Wickliffe Road , Berryville, VA 22611; 540-955-2450, cell 703-623-8619, farmer@mooseapplechristmastree farmer@mooseapplechristmastreefarm. farm.com com

Thanks to these “donors and workers” for helping with the MANTS Trade Show and the Ruritan National Meeting! Our goal is to make Moose Apple a truly unique tree farm. We have a heavy emphasis on quality handmade crafts that accounted for approximately 33% of our 2011. The goal is to increase the crafts and non-tree sales to 50%. Customers are returning year after year to see what new gift items have been added . We have had customers stopping buy as many as 3 times in a single season. The first stop is to buy their tree and do some shopping, then, after noting a friend or spouse’s interest in a craft returning once and sometimes twice to buy additional crafts.

Danny Neel Dave Robishaw Charlie Connors Greg Miller Sue and Jamie Bostic Sue Huffman Sherrie Taylor Earl Deal Della Deal Jeff Miller John and Virginia Carroll

VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012


Moose Apple Farm Color Photos Moose Apple Farm Color Photos

VCTGA Members promoting Virginia Grown Trees at the Ruritan National Convention in Raleigh VCTGA Members promoting Virginia Grown Trees at the Ruritan National Convention in Raleigh

(l-r) Sue and Jamie Bostic, Virginia and John Carroll, Greg Miller (l-r) Sue and Jamie Bostic, Virginia and John Carroll, Greg Miller

News - New Specialty License Plate Supporting Community Trees Available for Pre-order

Update your website with the new VCTGA logo!

Update your website with the new VCGA logo!

VCTGA News Journal – Spring 2012 VCTGA News Journal –Spring 2012

A new specialty license plate is available for pre-order in Virginia. The Virginia Loves Trees license plate features a community skyline enhanced by trees (with one tree even featuring a swing) in eyecatching blues and greens and is designed to raise awareness of the value of community trees in Virginia.

In Virginia, 450 plates must be presold before the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will put the proposed plate into production. Presales of the Virginia Loves Trees plate began October 1, 2011. After 450 are sold, funds are turned over to the DMV and plates will be available at any DMV location. Plates can be ordered online, or in the mail using forms downloaded from the Virginia Loves Trees website (www.valovestrees.org ). Supporting organizations include the urban forestry program at Virginia Tech in the College of Natural Resources & Environment, Trees Virginia, the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, the MidAtlantic Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, and the Virginia Green Industry Council.

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STD PRST US POSTAGE PAID WYTHEVILLE, VA PERMIT 172

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

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VCTGAVCTGA News Journal – Spring−2012 News Journal Spring 2012


VCTGA News Journal Spring 2012