The Real Christmas Tree Board


Christmas Tree Promotion Board Request for Proposals

The Real Christmas Tree Board (RCTB), also known as the Christmas Tree Promotion
Board, is focused on improving the future of the industry by increasing the value and
demand for cut Christmas trees through promotion, research and education. The RCTB
is a national research and promotion program supported by production assessments
from both domestic and imported Christmas trees with oversight by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.

The purpose of the Real Christmas Tree Board Competitive Research Grant Program is
to establish and conduct research with respect to the image, desirability, use,
marketability, quality, product development or production of Christmas trees; to the end
that the marketing and use of Christmas trees may be encouraged, expanded,
improved, or made more acceptable and to advance the image, desirability, or quality of
Christmas trees.

Research means any type of test, systematic study, investigation, analysis and/or
evaluation designed to advance the image, desirability, use, marketability, quality,
product development, or production of Christmas trees, including but not limited to
research related to cost of production, market development, testing the effectiveness of
market development and promotional efforts, new species of Christmas trees and
environmental issues relating to the Christmas tree industry.

Please note that all deadlines and funding are contingent upon the annual approval of
the RCTB budget and continuation of the RCTB based on future referendum results.
Grants may range from $1,000 to $100,000, the amount of funds available for a
particular proposal will depend on the number and merit of successful proposals. The
funding cycle runs from August 1, through July 31. No-cost extensions are available
upon request. Multi-year projects will be considered with the understanding that funding
for subsequent years would be contingent on performance and RCTB budget
availability. Keep in mind; emergency project funding may be available at any time if an
unexpected need arises in your area.

Priorities set for this grant cycle funding include but are not exclusive to:
● Genetic Improvement – All species, all growing regions
● Environmental and Socio-Economic Benefit of Real Trees – Carbon
sequestration capabilities, green space, sustainability, economic impact on rural
● Insect/Pest Management – especially elongate hemlock scale, wildlife damage,
herbicide resistant weeds,
● Improved technology – labor reduction, safety, cost benefit, quality of end-product
(baling materials, baler pulling devices, shaking, needle loss)
● Disease Management/Resistance – especially Phytophthora

Please email [email protected] for additional information or questions.

The CTPB is governed by the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of
1996 (7 U.S.C. 7411-7425) and the Christmas Tree Promotion, Research, and
Information Order (7 CFR 1214), which requires all non-proprietary information collected
as part of the project will be owned, or jointly owned, by the Christmas Tree Promotion
Board (the “CTPB” or the “Board”) subject to the contract provisions below:

Copyright, Patent and Licensing Agreement Provisions

a. The parties agree that information processes or inventions which could be protected
by patents or copyrights may be developed as a result of the Project which is the
subject of this Agreement.

b. Any inventions, whether or not patentable, copyrights, information, patents, product
formulations, processes, or trademarks developed or conceived by Contracted Party
within the scope of the work set forth in the contract (collectively, “Intellectual Property”)
shall belong jointly to CTPB and to Contracted Party. Contracted Party shall promptly
notify CTPB in writing of any such inventions and will cooperate with CTPB in filing of
any patent applications. Neither CTPB nor Contracted Party shall sell, license, or
otherwise transfer any Intellectual Property developed with the scope of work set forth in
the contract without the prior written consent of the other and such consent shall not be
unreasonably withheld. Any proceeds from the sale, licensing, or transfer of the
Intellectual Property shall belong jointly to CTPB and to Contracted Party pursuant to 7
CFR Part 1214.62 Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order. All
Intellectual Property conceived by Contracted Party outside the scope of the work set
forth in the contract shall be and remain the property of the Contracted Party.


Seedling and Transplant Survey Results 

CTPB Seedling and Transplant Survey Results 2022

CTPB Seedling and Transplant Survey Results 2021

CTPB Seedling and Transplant Final Report 2020


Research Topic Survey for Christmas Tree Growers – Now Available!

The Christmas Tree Promotion Board is responsible for utilizing checkoff funds to promote real Christmas trees, and to support scientific, unbiased research improving Christmas tree production. We invite you to complete our short voluntary survey developed to gather input from Christmas tree producers about insect, disease, and other issues that impact your ability to grow high-quality Christmas trees. The information collected by this survey will be used to direct the focus of research grant proposal requests and approvals. Please take the time to complete this survey.

Printed Survey Link: 2023 Research Topic Survey

email to [email protected]

or by mail to:

Cyndi Knudson
Real Christmas Tree Board, Director of Research
2136 Brush Hill Lane
Virginia Beach, VA 23456


Christmas Tree Research Projects Funded by the CTPB – FY 2022-2023

Real Christmas Tree Board Research

Every year the Real Christmas Tree Board funds approximately $250,000 worth of Christmas tree research projects at universities across the United States and Canada. Research project selection is based on priorities shared with us by growers through several avenues, including our annual Research Topic Survey for Growers.  This article will summarize the projects funded for 2022-2023.

Screening new herbicides to manage herbicide-resistant weeds in Christmas tree

Little research has been conducted on weed management in the Pacific Northwest.  Weed control is essential in Christmas trees to reduce competition for moisture and nutrients, allow fast and robust tree growth, and ensure growers top prices for high-quality trees. Herbicides are the primary weed control option for Christmas tree growers and labeled herbicide options are limited.  Also, herbicide-resistant weeds are a challenge in Christmas trees. Herbicide resistance has increased weed management costs in Christmas trees, as herbicide mixtures or rotations of herbicides are now required.  In a study at Oregon State University, Marcelo Moretti, PhD., is screening new chemistries with underutilized modes of action for weed control efficacy and crop safety in Christmas trees.  The findings of this research will support future registrations of herbicides in Christmas trees.

Soil chemistry and biological manipulation to prevent losses from Phytophthora root rot

At the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Dr. Rich Cowles, will investigate the components of disease-suppressive soils that prevent root infections of susceptible plants, even when inoculated with a pathogen.  Suppressive soils likely require complementary conditions since bacteria and fungi suppressive of PRR are common in soil.  To be effective their activity needs to be stimulated by the addition of soil amendments, including organic matter, nitrogen, calcium, and sulfur.  Each factor will be tested, alone and in combination, in microplots and in field trials with Fraser fir.  In a second experiment, root dips of commercially available microorganisms suppressive of phytophthora root rot will be compared using Fraser fir as the test species. 

Efficacy of Bluefume (HCN) fumigation in eradicating elongate hemlock scale on Christmas trees and Profume (sulfuryl flouride) fumigation for controlling Megastigmus larvae in conifer seeds

In collaboration with scientists at North Carolina State University and USDA ARS, scientists at Washington State University will conduct replicated fumigation trials to address regulatory issues associated with the potential spread of two pests:  1) elongated hemlock scale (EHS) on infested Fraser fir Christmas trees and greenery products and 2) Megastigmus larvae in imported conifer seed. EHS-infested detached branches will be used to repeat 2021 trials to determine the potential effectiveness of postharvest fumigation treatments with Bluefume (HCN) in killing EHS. Profume (sufuryl fluoride) will be used to treat Megastigmus infested seed.  This project will look at the efficacy of treatment on the larvae and will determine if the fumigation treatment has any adverse effect on seed quality and germination.

Improving the viability and vigor of Nordmann and Turkish fir seeds in long-term storage

Scientists at Washington State University, Oregon State University and industry partners, will study ways to improve the viability and vigor of Nordmann and Turkish fir seeds in long-term storage. Seeds of many conifer species can be stored for decades without considerable loss of viability and vigor. However, seeds of several true firs (Abies spp), are notorious for their poor long-term storage. Germination and vigor of two increasingly popular Christmas tree species in the USA, Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana) and Turkish fir (Abies bornmuelleriana), degrade significantly after just two years in cold storage. American nurseries rely heavily on imported sources for these species, so improvements to storage longevity would greatly benefit the domestic industry. There is considerable variation in harvesting, processing, and storage techniques of Nordmann and Turkish fir seed, and potential areas for improvement. Two approaches will be used to improve the longevity of Nordmann and Turkish fir seed kept in cold storage: 1) assess seed quality among imported and domestic sources and experimentally compare different storage parameters (moisture content and temperature) on longevity, and 2) develop web-based educational materials for “best practices” associated with the processing and storage of these seeds.

Improving first year noble fir seedling survival and growth

In the Pacific Northwest, growers have struggled the last decade with variable summer weather and consequent noble fir seedling survival. In several years, overall seedling survival has been as low as 20%. Oregon State University Extension has been working with growers to develop solutions over the many years.  This research project will look at three methods to improve first year survival rates including:  fall versus spring planting, soil amendments to conserve soil moisture, and supplemental watering strategies

Managing cone formation in Abies Christmas tree species

At Michigan State University research personnel are working with grower cooperators to continue and expand their on-going research to reduce coning impacts on Fraser fir and improve understanding of factors controlling coning in Fraser fir and other true firs (Abies spp). RCTB research funds support this work at Michigan State University focused on three objectives:  reducing cone formation through application of plant growth regulators (PGRs), selection of Fraser fir for delayed coning (i.e., trees that will not cone until after typical harvest age), and understanding control of coning of true fir Christmas tree species.

Improving the viability and vigor of Nordmann and Turkish fir seeds in long-term storage

Scientists at Washington State University will produce Trojan fir seedlings and conduct greenhouse trials to determine the susceptibility of Trojan fir to regional Phytophthora species that cause root rot on Christmas trees. Phytophthora Root Rot (PRR) is a serious disease of true firs (Abies spp.), resulting in substantial losses in the Christmas tree and conifer nursery industries. PRR limits where highly susceptible Fraser and noble fir can be grown. Once the soil is infested with this pathogen, growers often have to abandon infested sites for the cultivation of these highly desirable species. Nordmann and Turkish fir are tolerant to PRR and provide an alternative species for growers to use, particularly in areas that are conducive to PRR. Ongoing research now indicates that Trojan fir has better growth rates and needle retention than Nordmann fir, and this new exotic species appears to have the potential to produce a high-quality Christmas tree in the PNW. Gary Chastagner at Washington State University will research the susceptibility of this species to PRR.  The identification of another source of true firs that is resistant to PRR provides growers with an alternative to chemical treatments to control this disease.

The Christmas Tree Genome Project to Rapidly Advance Genetic Improvement

The Christmas Tree Genetics Program and the Molecular Tree Breeding Laboratory both housed in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University (NCSU), will collaborate on this project to develop genomic resources desperately needed to rapidly advance genetic improvement efforts of fir (Abies spp.) Christmas trees for the U.S. industry. Traditional genetic improvement methods cannot keep pace with the challenges associated with climate change and increased damage from pests and pathogens. Instead, improved breeding strategies that accelerate the domestication process are needed. Such strategies rely on genomic information for target species. By developing genomic resources for Fraser fir breeding tools can accelerate cycles of genetic selection and reduce the time between generations from 25-30 yrs to 10 yrs or less. This project will develop a comprehensive set of transcripts/genes for Fraser fir to facilitate genome annotation and develop genomic tools that can help to rapidly advance genetic improvement efforts of Abies Christmas trees.

Evaluation of insecticide alternatives to chlorpyrifos for needle midge management in PNW Douglas fir

Douglas fir needle midge, Contarinia spp., causes defoliation of needles, making a tree unmarketable. Mexico also does not allow importation of Christmas trees with needle midge damage, and entire truckloads of trees may be rejected at the border if one of the trees has signs of needle midge.  Control of needle midge has traditionally relied upon a contact insecticide applied to time with the adult emergence and egg laying period. While several insecticides are labeled for needle midge control, growers have relied primarily on chlorpyrifos (trade name: Lorsban).  Chlorpyrifos usage will be phased out of Oregon Christmas tree production by June 15, 2023. An Oregon State University researcher, Danielle Lightle will conduct a research project to evaluate the effectiveness of currently labeled needle midge control materials, as well as screen some additional materials, to provide guidance to growers on control of this pest in the absence of chlorpyrifos.

Use of pyroligneous acid to improve postharvest needle retention in balsam fir Christmas trees

A research project conducted at Dalhousie University will assess the potential of pyroligneous acid to inhibit bacteria growth in Christmas tree stands and fungal accumulation on stomata. Pyroligneous acid is a completely organic bio-stimulant and pesticide. By mitigating accumulation of bacteria and fungi, water uptake and stomatal conductance should remain high and contribute to better postharvest needle retention. Pyroligneous acid will be evaluated for use as a water additive and foliar spray and measurements including needle retention, water uptake, stomatal conductance, chlorophyll fluorescence, membrane injury, and fungal/bacterial accumulation.  If pyroligneous acid improves Christmas tree shelf-life and quality, a major consumer complaint, needle loss, could be reduced.

Christmas tree shopping environments, mental fatigue recovery, and shopping preferences: A nationwide marketing study

A recent CNN article provided an important reminder that real Christmas trees (and nature in general) provide important health benefits such as the reduction in anxiety, psychological stress, and depression. The Mayo Clinic recognizes that many people experience stress around the holidays, so their recommendation to restore inner calm may be even more important during Christmas. Researcher, Chad Pierskalla at West Virginia University will examine and compare the extent to which Christmas tree shopping environments that include real trees in the outdoors (i.e., choose and cut farm, garden center, home improvement stores, grocery stores, and other general retailer displays) and artificial trees indoors (i.e., variety of chain store displays) provide opportunities for the recovery of mental fatigue.  Christmas tree retailers will be able to use this marketing information to better meet the needs of customers.


To see outcomes of completed research projects funded by the RCTB visit our research library at


Christmas Tree Research: A Growing Investment 

The science behind growing and caring for Christmas trees is constantly evolving. The Christmas Tree Promotion Board is dedicated to funding scientifically sound, unbiased research that will have far reaching impacts on the industry. Over a million dollars has been invested in a slate of research projects designed to produce high quality Christmas trees, manage ever increasing production costs, and minimize environmental impact. Listed below are projects that are complete, and ongoing, being funded by Christmas Tree Promotion Board Checkoff funds from 2016 to 2022.

  • The Cooperative Fir Germplasm Evaluation (CoFirGE) project is designed to identify regionally adapted sources of Turkish and Trojan firs that produce excellent Christmas trees, and to obtain a better understanding of how site and environmental conditions are affecting the growth and postharvest quality of Turkish and Trojan firs.       

          Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Washington State University, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University $89,173

  • Understanding the Impact of Elongate Hemlock Scale on Select Tree Species Native to Florida North Carolina State University $29,750                                                                   

          University of Florida $5,470

  • Survey of Slug Species and Development of IPM Strategies for Management of Slugs on Christmas Trees Oregon State University $65,000                                                               

          Washington State University $15,000

  • Managing Cone Formation on Fraser Fir Michigan State University $136,240 

          Fraser Fir Cone Control Research North Carolina State University $15,903

  • Developing Strategies for Leader Control in Nordmann and Turkish Fir

          Oregon State University, Michigan State University $12,200

  • Spray Drones to Apply Agricultural Materials to Christmas Trees                                         

          North Carolina State University $39,600

  • Post-Entry Elimination of Megastigmus Seed Larvae in Imported Conifer Seed               

          Washington State University, Oregon State University $27,575

  • Enhanced Establishment and Growth of Bareroot Transplants Using Controlled-Release Fertilizers                                                                                                                                       

          Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station $1,000

  • Management Options for Herbicide Resistant Weeds in Christmas Tree Production           

          North Carolina State University $41,629

  • Effectiveness of Preharvest Application of 1-MCP in Reducing Needle Loss on Cut Christmas Trees                                                                                                                                   

          Washington State University $32,519

  • Evaluation of Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) Seed Sources for S. Christmas Tree Production                                                                                                                                               

          Oregon State University, Washington State University, Pennsylvania State University $76,839

  • Twig Weevil- A small poorly understood pest inflicting havoc in the PNW export markets Washington State University, Oregon State University $95,331

          Susceptibility of Trojan fir to Phytophthora Root Rot Washington State University $52,921

  • Exploring Sustainable Management for Armored Scales in Christmas Tree Plantations

          Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station $36,528

  • Investigating Soil Acidification Mechanisms for Inhibiting Phytophthora

          Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station $22,000

  • Regional Variation in Needle Loss from Trees in CoFirGE Planting Sites                       

          Washington State University, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University, North Carolina State University, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Michigan State University $30,596

  • Surveying for Oregonian Slugs in Hawaii with the Goal of Removing their Quarantine Status

          Oregon State University $9,976

  • Spotted Lanternfly: A New Exotic Pest Threatening the Mid-Atlantic Christmas Tree Industry

          Pennsylvania State University $4,598

  • Breeding to produce the next generation of Virginia Pine for Texas/Oklahoma Markets

          Texas A & M Forest Service $14,122

  • Incorporation of Soil Amendments for Managing Phytophthora Root Rot in Fraser Fir in North Carolina

          North Carolina State University $14,264

  • Efficacy of ethyl formate fumigation in eradicating elongate hemlock scale on Christmas trees

          Washington State University $5,946

  • Quantifying genetic variation in needle retention and timing of bud flush in Balsam Fir Christmas Trees for improved performance under climate change in the northeast   

          University of New Brunswick $24,266

  • Improving the viability and vigor of Nordmann and Turkish fir seeds in long-term storage

          Washington State University $33,339

  • Spotted Lanternfly Training for Christmas Tree Growers

          Virginia Tech $5993

  • Isolation and development of effective fungal biocontrol for elongate hemlock scale

          West Virginia University $79,583

  • Effect of Growing Media Properties and Container Geometry on Fraser Fir Germination and Transplant Success

          North Carolina State University $41,331

  • Viability and Vigor of Heat-Treated Nordmann and Turkish Fir Seed

          Washington State University $30,098

  • Survey the Fungus Conoideocrella luteorostrata and Monitor Effectiveness as Biocontrol of Elongate Hemlock Scale

          West Virginia University $38,192

  • Life Cycle Analysis to Determine Net Carbon Sequestration in Commercial Christmas Tree Production

          University of New Brunswick and Michigan State University $26,189

  • Improving Management of Elongate Hemlock Scale in Fraser Fir Christmas Trees

          North Carolina State University $37,244

  • Native Selections for Christmas Tree Production in the Southern Coastal Plain of the US

          Mississippi State University $26,116

  • Mapping Christmas Tree Nutrition Requirements Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Multispectral Sensors

          Dalhousie University $9,500

  • Integrating Biological Control of Armored Scale Pests of Christmas Trees

          Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station $14,622

  • Soil Chemistry and Biological Manipulation to Prevent Losses from Phytophthora Root Rot

          Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station $20,649

  • Efficacy of BlueFume (HCN) Fumigation in Eradicating Elongate Hemlock Scale on Christmas Trees and Profume Fumigation for Controlling Megastigmus Larvae in Conifer Seed

          Washington State University and North Carolina State University $23,853

  • Improving viability and vigor of Nordmann and Turkish fir seeds in Long-term Storage

          Washington State University $17,930

  • Improving First Year Noble Fir Seedling Survival and Growth

           Oregon State University $12,917

  • The Christmas Tree Genome Project to Rapidly Advance Genetic Improvement

           North Carolina State University $50,000

  • Evaluation of insecticide alternatives to chlorpyrifos for needle midge management in PNW Douglas fir

          Oregon State University $11,325

  • Use of Pyroligneous Acid to Improve Postharvest Needle Retention in Balsam Fir Christmas Trees

           Dalhousie University $18,098

  • Christmas Tree Shopping Environments, Mental Fatigue Recovery and Shopping Preferences: A Nationwide Marketing Study

           West Virginia University $12,276

  • Screening New Herbicides to Manage Herbicide Resistant Weeds in Christmas Tree

          Oregon State University $50,000

In addition to the projects listed above, the CTPB has funded just over $41,000 of consumer research.