Tree sales of Fraser Fir have been brisk resulting in a shortage of our cut trees early in the season. We have supplemented our cut trees by freshly cutting some local Canaan Fir that are quite similar to Fraser fir as far as branching, color and needle retention. Canaan Firs are native to the Canaan River Valley in West Virginia and have the ability to grow in wetter soils that Fraser Fir will not tolerate. According to Ken Cochran, the former curator of the Secrest Arboretum and Jim Chatfield of OSU extension, Canaan Fir will have needle retention equivalent to Fraser Fir as long as cut around Thanksgiving or after. Fraser Fir and Canaan Fir have only recently replaced the once favored Scotch Pine as a favorite cut Christmas tree for Ohio. The extra inputs of labor of disease and insect control have made Scotch Pine a pariah to Christmas tree growers.

The early colder weather, while miserable, has been a benefit for the nursery in keeping down the incidents of fungal disease in the winter storage huts full of trees and shrubs. Any temperature of 28º F or more results in doors and rollup sides open to expose the huts to fresh moving air which fungal organisms don’t like. Mice in the traps in the houses have declined greatly after almost filling the traps for the past two weeks making it unlikely that much stock will be destroyed or damaged from their gnawing of roots and stems of the stored plants.

Cuttings of annual flowers have arrived from Mexico to be stuck into cells. Unfortunately, the boiler that is so necessary to heat water to circulate through tubes in order to heat the rooting cells stopped working. After an application of a solution of citric acid to dissolve lime deposits in the tubes and feed pipes restricting circulation of the hot water resulting in the flow switch shutting down, the citric acid did the job and the flow rate improved dramatically.

No doubt that there is water starting to percolate into the water table to replenish the ground water but I think everyone will agree that for now we have had enough rain. Too bad we can’t export some of it to California.