It’s that time of the year again and Christmas trees are being put up in homes right across the country!

Bord Bia and the Irish Christmas Tree Association (ICTA) are encouraging people to put up a real trees this Christmas and they are offering tips on how to look after your tree.

While Christmas trees only enter the public consciousness for month of the year, for a grower it is an all year round operation, involving specialist attention from the initial site preparation to the ongoing maintenance of the crop. On average it takes seven  to 10 years for a Christmas tree to grow to a minimum height for harvesting.

According to the ICTA: “At a glance it might seem easy to plant a tree and let if look after itself but the husbanding of a real Christmas tree is a year-round job. Tree plantations provide a wonderful habitat for wildlife and for every tree that I harvest I plant a new one each spring to enable a continuous rotation.

“The production of Christmas trees is labour intensive over eight years. The reward for the grower at harvest is to have produced a tree that will take pride of place in any home to help celebrate Christmas.”

Bord Bia said there are six main reasons for a real Irish Christmas tree:

1. Irish Christmas trees are really fresh due to the reduced travel stress on them.
2. Once cared for properly, non-shedding trees such as the Noble Fir and Lodge pole Pine will not lose their needles.
3. Real Christmas trees remain good value and can be recycled after use at locations nationwide, creating compost for gardens and landscape use.
4. Each tree is cultured as an individual tree and produced to the highest quality standards from the time they are planted right through to delivery.
5. In accordance with sustainable yield management promoted by the Forest Service new Christmas trees are continually being planted to replace those trees harvested.
6. During the 10-year growing period one hectare of Christmas trees produces between 70 and 105 tons of oxygen

Advice on the best way to care for your Christmas tree:

• After purchasing your tree, cut an inch or two off the bottom of the tree’s stem and stand it in a bucket of water. Shake off any loose needles before bringing the tree indoors.
• Once inside, stand the tree in a special Christmas tree stand or in a bucket with a water bowl. Add a pint of water to the water bowl and top up daily.
• Place the free in the coolest part of the room making sure it is properly secured and away from doorways, stairs, heaters, radiators and open fires.
• Make sure that lights on the Christmas tree or lights used for decoration elsewhere are properly wired and comply with the current EU standards of safety.
• Always unplug tree lights and other decorations when leaving the house or going to bed.
• After the festive season, your tree can also be recycled for use as mulch – check your local council or corporation website for Christmas tree recycling arrangements. If potted, your tree can also be replanted in your garden.

Facts and figures
Demand in Ireland for trees: 400,000
Trees grown per year: 700,000
Number of growers: 100
Tree types (percentage of EU market): Nordmann fir (70 per cent); Noble fir (20 per cent); Fraser fir (five per cent); Douglas fir, Scots pine, Norway spruce and Lodgepole pine (five per cent).