Popular Christmas tree species is diseased; falling needles cause a big mess

Published: Dec. 5, 2019 at 9:55 PM EST
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Finding the perfect Christmas tree is a wonderful tradition for many families. But at tree farms around the country this season, a favorite type is diseased. The problem isn't easy to catch, but leaves behind quite a mess.

The blue spruce is a classic Christmas tree. In fact, it's so popular there are about 10,000 of them at the Whitehouse Christmas Tree Farm. At first glance the tree looks beautiful, but looks can be deceiving.

Duke Wheeler says this kind of problem is a first on his farm.

"Could be a long Christmas season if we don't stop it early," said Wheeler.

He says blue spruce trees are diseased nationwide causing needles to fall fast.

"Even our mature blue spruces that have been on our property for 40, 50 years are starting to die at the bottom. You'll see the lower branches die, works right up to the top," said Wheeler.

Wheeler says the issue stems from a fungus infection and the shedding starts roughly three days after the tree is cut.

"Blue spruce needles are sappy. So, not only could you make a mess, you could stain the carpet. You know, it's just a mess," said Wheeler.

This is disappointing news to the Millers. The couple comes to this tree farm every Christmas.

"We typically always come for a blue spruce. It's my favorite. I grew up with a real tree my whole life. So, we're always kind of drawn to these," said Emily Miller.

They brought their one-year-old daughter, Laney, to the tree farm on her birthday to continue the family tradition. Initially, they picked a blue spruce tree to take home.

"He did warn us, but I think we're going to give it a shot," said Miller.

But once the tree was cut down and the rotten needles became more visible, the Millers changed their mind. Per Wheeler's recommendation, they got a fraser fir instead.

"I'm glad they were honest with us. We really appreciate that. Rather than taking it home and getting it set up and having a big mess on our hands," said Miller.

Wheeler says there are thousands of other trees to choose from and wants to make sure everyone has a Merry Christmas minus the mess.

"These trees are beautiful. So, we're just excited to be taking home a real one," said Miller.

If you did purchase a blue spruce already from the Whitehouse Tree Farm, don't worry. Just go back, bring your receipt and you can get a new tree for free. It will be a different kind that won't make a big mess. The farm is open through December 14.

Things will continue to be busy on the Whitehouse Christmas Tree Farm after the holidays. Workers will have to pull out and remove all 10,000 blue spruce trees. That species will no longer be sold.

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