British Columbia Christmas tree growers say intense heat sings precious trees and kills saplings


Duncan, British Columbia — Christmas tree growers in British Columbia face a brown holiday season due to a heat dome that burns fir for the family living room as temperatures continue to exceed 40 degrees Celsius. Say there is.

According to Robert Russell, the heat dome in late June turned some trees from green to brown and killed many spring saplings. He has grown Christmas trees on Vancouver Island for nearly 50 years and holds a degree in forestry from the University of British Columbia.

Russell, 83, said that some fir were too hot to sell with brown needles, reducing the value of Christmas trees and the quality was too low to sell.

“The trees couldn’t withstand the heat of the sun’s rays,” Russell said. I was standing by a 7-year-old Grand Fir, 2 meters high.

Douglas-fir trees, which grow naturally in the coastal areas of British Columbia, performed better than other non-native species in the heat, but are often considered lower because of the structure of the needles, he said. Told.

Russell, who lives in a cabin built on a 16-hectare Satram Tree Farm near Duncan, said most of his business was related to the wholesale of trees to companies and organizations that sell them at Christmas. .. But the general public also welcomes coming to his property and cutting their own trees.

He said wholesale customers have already asked about the condition of the trees during the Christmas season.

“I said,’You will get your tree, but the quality may not be as good as it used to be,'” Russell said. “The heat dome will limit the number of trees that can be put on the market.”

Paul Huesken said he heard similar stories about heat damage to trees from operators in his area of ​​Fraser Valley, and from producers in Washington and Oregon.

“I’ve been growing trees since 1987 and this is the worst year,” said Huesken, who runs the Woodsong Christmas Tree near Chilliwack and is Chairman of the Christmas Tree Association in Southwest British Columbia. ..

“Sure, the temperature here was up to 44 degrees Celsius, so in my experience this is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” he said.

There may be heat-burnt brown patches left on the sides of some wood, which may not be satisfying to the market or may only be sold at a discounted price.

“I’m just telling some of my (wholesale) customers all over Western Canada.” You may be happy with the three sides of the tree, so you can’t supply to you this year. I think you’re not happy with the fourth aspect, “he said.

Heusken said he plans to notify anyone who wants to cut his own trees on his farm this holiday season that he may have to cut heat-damaged trees.

“People can walk around the tree and decide whether to buy it,” he said.

Sally Aitken, who teaches forestry at the University of British Columbia and is an expert on the effects of drought and heat on trees and plants, said the heat dome could have short-term and long-term effects on Christmas tree growers. Said there is.

She said the trees that the farmers had been grooming for up to seven years could be damaged and the seedlings of future crops were also thinned due to the heat.

Aitken said he noticed a change in trees while in Lillooet earlier this summer when the area broke Canada’s temperature record in his early 40s. She said the wooden needles were soft and sticky and gave off a strong odor.

“It’s a tricky situation,” said Aitken. “We are monitoring reactions to situations outside of historical conditions, so we don’t know what to expect.”

Russell agrees that the current situation is unknown, but for now he is doing his best to save his crop and brown to keep the tree in shape for the holiday season. Mow the branches.

“I have a specific technique to make the tree look as beautiful as possible,” he said. “But that’s what it is.”

By Dirk Meissner