|photo courtesy of SeattleTimes.nwsource.com|
Focusing on the Balsam Fir, one of the main trees grown for Christmas trees in Canada, the Center has focused much of their study on how to keep needles greener longer. This goes well beyond just remembering to put water in the tree stand. The bonuses of this research are many, from the longer duration of freshness of trees in tree lots to how long they can look good in your house.
Needle drop is triggered by the hormone ethylene. Ethylene is the same hormone that is released when an apple ripens. With some manipulation of the hormone, the Center has been able to find some possible solutions to slow down needle drop by half so a tree has a much longer life span. Two different solutions, one taken in through the trunk in liquid and the other in a gas “bath” affect the synthesis of the hormone and also the needle abscission layers from forming.