UT, State Develop Premium Christmas Trees (160)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee is helping state Christmas tree growers develop the perfect holiday evergreen.

 Dr. Scott Schlarbaum, who heads UT’s Tree Improvement Program, said 600 premium quality Norway Spruce trees raised by UT soon will be transplanted at the East Tennessee State Nursery in Polk County.

The trees are the product of three decades of selection and propagation work at UT, Schlarbaum said.

 At the nursery, cuttings from their branches will be treated to grow roots. These rooted cuttings, or clones, keep the desirable traits of the parent trees, such as needle retention, shape and fast growth, Schlarbaum said. The clones will be distributed to Christmas tree growers across the state, he said.

 “This work by UT and the State helps improve the choice and quality of Christmas trees available to Tennesseans, and makes the state’s Christmas tree industry more lucrative,” Schlarbaum said.

 The state Christmas Tree Growers Association says the sale of Tennessee-grown Christmas trees totals about $3 million annually.

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 Contact: Dr. Scott Schlarbaum (423-974-7993)