Shopping for a live Christmas tree this season? Alle-Kiski residents have plenty of sellers to choose from
Now that the turkey has been eaten and holiday shopping has begun, residents across the Alle-Kiski Valley will be looking for the perfect tree to pull their holiday decorations together.
Christmas tree sellers are open and ready for business this weekend despite issues from the rainy year and the threat of a potentially damaging insect infestation in Pennsylvania.
The Alle-Kiski Valley remains full of options for buying real Christmas trees this year, from cut-your-own farms to roadside stands.
Shoppers can find several varieties of trees from Fraser, Douglas and concolor firs to blue spruce and white pine.
Pennsylvania remains No. 4 in the nation for Christmas tree production with about 31,000 acres of Christmas tree farms and more than 1 million trees harvested yearly.
Rain: A blessing and a curse
Shannon Powers, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, said overall the wet weather that caused other farmers to suffer this year hasn’t affected many Christmas tree farmers.
“Christmas trees tend to benefit from the wetter weather,” she said. “Harvesting can be complicated.”
However, Tom Goldsheitter, owner of Goldsheitter Tree Farm in Buffalo Township, said he had major damage from the rain this year.
“I probably lost a lot of what I planted last year — at least 400 trees,” he said.
Goldsheitter said the Fraser firs took the biggest hit because they are more susceptible to wet weather. He said many of them got what’s commonly called “root rot.”
“(I’ll) try to plant a different variety other than those next year and see what happens,” he said. “We lost probably a whole year.”
The good part about all the rain is the trees will likely stay green all season because they are so saturated with water.
“We’ve seen an increase in growth rate,” said Shawn DesLauriers, owner of TLC Landscaping and Nursery. “Trees that were really sparse last year filled in.”
Some tree growers and sellers have said they’ve had a hard time getting to the fields to chop down the trees.
“When the fields are so muddy, they have a hard time harvesting the trees,” said Jim Beacom III, owner of 380 Auction & Discount Warehouse in Murrysville.
He gets trees from Pennsylvania and Canada so he has a variety to choose from in case one area has a bad year.
Spotted lantern fly not an issue in W.Pa.
A 13-county area in Eastern Pennsylvania has been quarantined in an effort to keep the spotted lantern fly from spreading throughout the state.
“(It’s) somewhat of a non-issue with Christmas trees,” Powers said. “There has only been one confirmed egg mass found on a cut Christmas tree in Pennsylvania.”
Powers said the flies tend to be attracted to fruit trees more than Christmas trees.
“They feed on the sap, (and) they weaken trees,” she said. “Pine trees are not a particular target.”
No local seller or grower reported any issues or concerns with the spotted lantern fly this year.
“It’s not this far yet,” said Dave Vargo, owner of Kiski Plaza Garden & Feed Center in Allegheny Township. “We know about it, but it’s not a problem.”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter @emilybalser.