The farmers here have a huge new horticultural project – removing the cones from our Fraser Fir trees! Little green cones have been popping up on many of the Frasers over the past week, and they need to go if we want our trees to grow in the classic Christmas tree shape. Why do we have cones this year? Frasers produce cones when they become stressed by weather conditions (anyone remember that drought we had last summer?). When the trees get stressed, they go into survival mode and begin producing little green cones carrying the seeds of a new generation. It’s a great survival tactic in nature, but on a tree farm it’s unnecesary because we plant and take care of the trees.
These cones create a problem for our farmers because the trees will devote their energy to producing cones and seeds instead of growing beautiful branches. If we allowed the trees to keep making cones, the branches wouldn’t grow properly this year and we would end up with some funny looking trees at Christmas time.
So what do the farmers do with the Fraser cones? We bring step ladders into the tree fields and hand pick the cones off every single Fraser. With thousands of Fraser Firs growing on our farm, this quickly becomes a huge project. And because these cones are wind pollinated, they mostly grow at the very top of the trees. Luckily, the explosion of Fraser cones doesn’t happen every year, but this spring we’ll have a lot of extra work to do in those tree fields!