Tips for choosing an Iowa grown Christmas Tree - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tips for choosing an Iowa grown Christmas Tree

DES MOINES (KWWL) -- According to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, the holidays are perfect for enjoying locally grown products like a holiday ham, a warm cup of chocolate milk, a glass of wine and even a Christmas tree.

There are close to 100 tree farms across the state where you can go select your own tree and cut it down yourself. These farms devote nearly 2,500 acres to Christmas tree production in Iowa and as a result harvest approximately 57,000 Christmas trees each year. The result is a $1.4 million industry contributing to Iowa's economy.

Growing these trees produces oxygen, prevents soil erosion, filters water, and provides wildlife habitat. And, following each Christmas season generally 2 to 3 seedlings are planted to replace each tree harvested.

With so many options, Iowans only need a few simple tips to find and select a fresh Christmas tree from a farm right here in Iowa.

CLICK HERE to find the location and hours of a tree farm near you.

Before you leave make sure you know what size tree, both height and width, will fit in your home. Most trees are trimmed to an 80% taper, which means that a tree that's 10' tall will be 8' wide at the bottom. As a result, one that fits your room vertically may be entirely too big horizontally.

Remember, you are going to a farm, so wear warm, comfortable clothes that you aren't afraid to get a little dirty in and take a pair a gloves. Fields are often very well taken care of, but can get muddy if there has been any precipitation and cutting down a tree often involves lying on the ground.

Once you find the tree that is the right shape and size, make sure the trunk is sufficiently straight. Also, make sure the tree has enough of a handle at the bottom to work in your tree stand.

Cutting down the tree will require at least two people, one to run the saw and the other to hold the tree. Then take it to the processing area where it will be prepared for you to take it home.

Once you get the tree home, the most important thing to remember is that real trees need water. Check water daily, as trees can use from a few pints up to a gallon a day. Then, whenever you set the tree up in your home, cut off an addition quarter inch from the trunk to make sure it is able to absorb water.

Throughout the Christmas season make sure you unplug the lights on the tree before you go to bed or leave home.

Following the holidays, make sure you dispose of your tree appropriately. Many communities offer mulching programs or you can recycle it yourself to create mulch for your own garden. You should never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove as it may contribute to creosote buildup.

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