TREE IMPROVEMENTS and SEED ORCHARDS
We currently have 9 different Seed Orchards in five species. The orchards are located on our farm in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania. We currently have orchards in Balsam Fir, Canaan Fir, Colorado Blue Spruce, Fraser Fir, and Scotch Pine. We are currently working to establish more up and coming orchards including Concolor Fir, Douglas Fir, Turkish Fir, Serbian Spruce as well as other Fraser Fir orchards. All our orchards were set using the most superior trees within our Christmas Tree fields. After collecting seed from our own orchards, we could easily see that our selected orchards provided us with a more superior tree than that of the wild stands and even our selected wild stand picks. Through the years, we realized not all the trees were the high quality we desired, even though they were a significant improvement over the wild stands. At that point, we decided to do more testing to acquire a more consistent tree.
At this time, we have started our extensive testing process, which is a constant ongoing process. The procedure begins by numbering each tree within the seed orchard. We then collect the seed from each individual tree and keep it separate. The seed is then planted in the seedbed, transplant bed, and Christmas tree field separately. At each point, it is labeled and mapped with the individual parent tree number. It is then grown to Christmas tree maturity and evaluated each year during the process. Characteristics are evaluated for form, texture, density, growth rate, color; shear ability, time of bud break (frost resistant or frost prone), resistance to disease and insects, and the ability to grow in variable sites.
- 031- A Scotch Pine orchard that’s origin is from Spanish Guadarrama. The orchard trees were selected from the best 2% of 6–8-foot trees in our plantation. The selection was based on form, color, shear ability and texture.
- 241 – This Fraser Fir orchard was set from one single parent tree in our original 240 orchard. The origin is the Balsam Mountain, NC. The single parent’s offspring proved to be an outstanding tree with the ability to grow on sites that are more marginal. We grew the offspring to 8 feet and selected the best 1% for an orchard. Best to date!
- 245 – This orchard of Fraser Fir is from the best parent trees from the 240 orchard. Progeny test have been done on all the trees in the 240 orchard and only the best 35-40% made it to this orchard. (Availability will be discontinued after Spring 2023)
- 260 – This Fraser Fir orchard tree’s origin is Roan Mountain, NC. It is a 2nd generation orchard from the finest parent trees. Seed was collected from the 3 best parent plants we found in Roan Mountain and the offspring from that collection were grown to 8 feet. Then we selected the best 4-5% of those trees for the orchard. These trees have proven to have incredible superiority, producing a heavier needle and branched tree, better quality and color and requires less shearing if grown on well drained sites. It is slightly slower growing than our 240-orchard series but produces 95+% premium trees at harvest. (Availability will be discontinued after Spring 2023)
- 270 – This a 2nd generation Fraser Fir orchard based on 12 parents from the original 240 orchard. Best row run selected 3 to 5% for this orchard. We are still testing the offspring of this orchard but expect it to be exceptional.
- 320 – Our Balsam Fir orchard origin is unknown, but we suspect its source is Maine. It was chosen for its later bud break.
- 356- Our Canaan Fir orchard source is the Canaan Valley, WV. The seed was collected in the native stands and grown to 8 feet, the best 10% were selected for the orchard based on form, texture, and shear ability. After seeing some poor needle retention issues in this orchard, we ran a needle retention test on the parent and its offspring. We removed the parent trees that had poor needle retention, and this has become our 356 orchard.
- 620 – This Colorado Blue Spruce orchard is a 2nd generation seed orchard with its origins suspected to be from San Isabel – west of the Denver-Pikes Peak area. It is a later bud breaker than San Juan sources and is almost 100% Blue Shiners. The trees for this orchard were selected on better form, color, and growth rate.
- 650 – This is a 2nd generation Colorado Blue Spruce orchard with its sources from San Juan, Santa Fe, and Kaibab. The orchard trees were selected at 8 feet for blue shiners, faster growth rate, form, body, and texture.