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Regional variation in postharvest needle loss from trees in CoFirGE planting sites

There has been increasing interest in growing exotic species, such as Turkish, Trojan, and Nordmann firs as Christmas trees in the United States. These species are resistant to a number of diseases and insect pests, such as Phytophthora root rot and balsam wooly adelgid that can kill or seriously damage many commonly-grown North American species of firs, such as noble and Fraser fir. The increased use of these exotics is limited by the availability of proven high quality seed sources, questions about their regional adaptability, and concerns about their postharvest needle retention.

In 2013, a series of 10 regional common garden plots were established as part of the Collaborative Fir Germplasm Evaluation (CoFirGE) Project to identify regionally adapted sources of Turkish and Trojan fir that have the potential to produce superior Christmas trees in five production regions of the United States and in Denmark. Each planting contains approximately 3,500 trees. They include progeny from 55 families of Turkish fir (3 provenances) and 34 families of Trojan fir (2 provenances) from Turkey, and seedlings from proven Christmas tree sources of balsam, Fraser, grand, Korean, noble, and Nordmann (3 provenances and 2 Danish seed orchards).

Needle retention is an important attribute of high-quality Christmas trees. A detached branch test has been used to obtain information on the variation in needle retention of all the trees in the WA Nisqually CoFirGE plot since 2017. The regional CoFirGE test plantings provide a unique opportunity to determine if sources of trees that exhibit superior needle retention characteristics in one region exhibit similar patterns in other regions.”

  • Project ID19-04-WSU
  • CategoriesGenetic Improvement
  • Growing Region(s)Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest
  • Tree SpeciesFir
  • Investigator(s)Chastagner
  • Institution(s)Washington State University
  • Research Year2019
  • Publication Year2022
  • ReportDownload 📁