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Pitch and Needle October 2013

About this newsletter
Plan ahead for Christmas-tree exports

Christmas tree shipping regulations

Christmas tree burning

Useful web sites

Shipping Clean

PCIT and Christmas Trees

2013 Christmas Tree Advisory Committee

State of Oregon holiday schedule
About this newsletter
Christmas tree plantation  
Christmas tree plantation
The Pitch & Needle is a annual online publication of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and is intended as an aid to anyone involved in the growing and shipping of Christmas trees. Through this bulletin, we hope to provide you with the most current shipping information as well as other topical information related to the Christmas tree industry. If you have any suggestions for topics or articles for the next issue, contact Eric Reusche via email at ereusche@oda.state.or.us.
Horticulturists:  Christy Brown, Debbie Driesner, Dan Hawks, Lisa Rehms, Eric Reusche, Karl Puls, Sherree Lewis, Scott Rose, Dennis Magnello, Gary Garth, Bev Clark, Susan Schouten
Gary McAninch, program supervisor; Jan Hedberg, lead horticulturist; Sue Nash, program assistant; Kim Lawson, office specialist; Melissa Lujan, GAIP auditor
Eric Reusche, editor
Plan ahead for Christmas-tree exports
Douglas fir
By Dennis Magnello, ODA Horticulturist
Sending Christmas trees to foreign countries or U.S. territories overseas? If so, please follow the guidelines below for a hassle-reduced shipping season.
  • Determine the import requirements for the destination country or territory. Ask your ODA Christmas tree inspector for the most current information, or refer to the appropriate section in the September issue of the Pitch and Needle. Be aware that information provided by the customer is not always accurate.
  • Obtain any necessary Import Permits from your host country contact (buyer or broker).
  • Provide ODA with a list and maps of the plantations from which your Christmas trees for export will be harvested, as well as a list of the countries and territories to which the trees will be shipped. Trees will then be inspected in the field, ideally in September and early October, to determine if they meet the host country's import requirements.
  • Submit your requests for Phytosanitary Certificates through the PCIT online certification system. See the article in this publication entitled "PCIT and Christmas Trees" for details. Requests should be made a minimum of two days in advance.

ODA inspectors will be glad to inspect fields of non-export Christmas trees also, per your request.
Christmas tree shipping regulations
xmas tree shaking  
Below is a summary of requirements to ship cut Christmas trees to states and territories of the United States, and to selected foreign countries effective September 20, 2013. Inspections and certifications are provided by Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) personnel. Review the information in the summary and contact the department to arrange field inspections prior to harvest and certification. Please provide at least five days notice before the actual shipping date when requesting certificates. Requests need to be scheduled as far in advance as possible. Destination shipping requirements are subject to change. All bills of lading, invoices, and bills of sale should bear county of origin, as well as, the name and address of the shipper. All shipments of Christmas trees grown in Oregon are required by Oregon law to be accompanied by a shipping permit. Christmas tree brokers must submit a list of all growers and growing locations from which Christmas tree harvest and shipping will occur to the ODA, Plant Division.
For more Christmas tree shipping regulations

Christmas tree burning
xmas tree shaking  
By John Byers, Natural Resources Division, ODA

When the winter day is cloudy, foggy, and drizzly, that is when the Christmas tree burning smoke complaints come into the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). Comments often include, “it seems like it goes on forever,” “I can’t go outside,” “can’t it be stopped,” and more.

Burning Christmas trees is a legal, common agronomic practice. ODA regulates the field burning of grass seed and cereal grain in the Willamette Valley, but not the burning of Christmas trees. 

Christmas tree burning is considered “agricultural burning,” which is not regulated unless you burn “prohibited materials” such as pallets or plastic, along with the trees. This is illegal, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has the enforcement authority.

Agricultural burning (Ag burning) is conducted throughout Oregon, and Christmas trees is not the only commodity being burned following harvest. However, Oregon is the only state in the west that does not regulate Ag burning. Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and California all regulate Ag burning, and most burning requires fee payment.

Christmas tree growers (and others) need to be proactive, and use a common sense approach to Ag burning to lessen the potential smoke impacts on the public.

Prior to burning, find out if Ag burning is “recommended.” The Oregon Department of Forestry Meteorology Department issues an Ag burning advisory daily. This advisory alerts Ag burners to the atmospheric conditions that may prohibit smoke evacuation. The daily “Burn Advisory,” is available by calling the ODA recording at 503-986-4755.

Stack trees in piles and light piles once. Do not continue to add trees to a burning pile.

Be a good neighbor. Even though Ag burning may be “recommended,” note which way the wind is blowing. Do not smoke out the neighborhood down the road.

Call your local fire department. Let them know your agricultural burning, and they will not have to roll trucks when a concerned citizen calls. 

Do not add prohibited materials to any fire. Essentially, “prohibited materials” are anything that is NOT the primary material being burned. Pallets, plastic jugs, garbage, etc., cannot be burned along with the Ag burn. Doing so could result in a DEQ civil penalty.

Other than the burning of grass seed and cereal grain, most commodities are not regulated for Ag burning. However, there is pressure to change this. ODA regularly receives smoke complaints, regardless of the source. ODA also receives complaints of agriculture created dust, and many times Ag is blamed for burning that is not Ag related. There are more people living near farmland; consequently, there is greater scrutiny towards farming’s common practices. Oregon does not regulate agricultural burning today. Without working together and using “burning common sense,” that might not be true tomorrow.
Useful web sites
Oregon Department of Agriculture

Oregon State University Extension Service

Oregon State University Extension Catalog page (Publications for Christmas Tree growers)

Washington State University Extension—Christmas trees

Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association

Pacific Northwest Management Handbooks





PCIT and Christmas Trees
By Dennis Magnello, ODA Horticulturist

What is PCIT?
PCIT is an acronym for Phytosanitary Certification Issuance and Tracking, a web-based system administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).

What is PCIT used for?
PCIT is used to issue, store and track electronic copies of State and Federal export certificates, including phytosanitary certificates (PCs). Exporters will continue to receive original paper certificates.

Who is required to use PCIT?
All exporters of Christmas trees and other commodities are required to use the PCIT system to submit requests for State and Federal phytosanitary certificates and other export certificates.

Where do I begin?
To use PCIT, you must first establish a USDA eAuthentication account. You can find instructions for creating a new account on the PCIT website at https://pcit.aphis.usda.gov/pcit/. Follow the directions on the sign-up menu for level one access. If you need assistance setting up your account, contact the PCIT help desk at pcithelpdesk@aphis.usda.gov or 1-888-457-7248.

How do I use PCIT?
Once you have established an eAuthentication account, you may use PCIT to create and submit applications for PCs. Log on to PCIT and follow the instructions under "Industry Users Quick Reference Guide." For assistance, contact the PCIT help desk, Sue Nash at the ODA Plant Division office at 503-986-4640, or your ODA Christmas tree inspector.

What type of certificates do I need?
When required, Federal PCs are used for certifying exports to countries and non-U.S. territories outside the United States. State of Oregon PCs may be needed for certain states, such as Hawaii, or U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or Guam.

How much do the PCs cost and how do I pay for them?
The fee is $21 each for Federal phytosanitary certificates and $15 each for State of Oregon PCs. Before your request for certificates can be processed, you must transfer the appropriate amount of funds into a financial management account in PCIT. To do so, log on to PCIT and follow the instructions in the Industry Users Quick Reference Guide under "Adding Funds to an Organization's Account in PCIT." The "Financial Management" link in PCIT may also be used to review financial transactions.

Shipping Clean
Chal Landgren, OSU Extension Christmas Tree Specialist                                                                   

A farm grown Christmas tree, even once cut, is still very much “alive”. The key, from a shipping standpoint, is to make sure that unwanted pests are not on the trees while in customer homes or at inspection ports. That is much easier to write about than to accomplish in real-life. But take heart, we are not trying to produce a sterile tree, after all they have been living outside for the past 6-10+ years.
There are a number of things growers can do to produce the cleanest trees possible for shipping. Some of these must be done years or months in advance of shipping; others are done during the busy harvesting process. So let’s break down some of the items to look well ahead of harvest and then during harvest.

Prior to Harvest (2 examples)-
•    Aphids- This has been a bad year for aphids on noble and grand fir. Young and pre-harvest trees are less of a concern than harvest trees. We are too late for this year for control and the residual damage-sooty mold and sticky branches is difficult to clean. So, begin scouting next spring. Look on the 2013 and 2012 branch segments in the lower 1/3 of the tree especially in harvest fields. Many growers reported the need for two spray applications this year on nobles.

•    Yellow Jackets- These are not pests of the trees, but often can be found in and around trees. Begin baiting and trapping around harvest fields in late spring to minimize the numbers found in the fall. By harvest, baiting and trapping is not a workable control option as “workers” have died off and queens are not feeding, just looking for a nest site.

At Harvest  (shaking and debris clean-up)-
There are many reasons to shake trees prior to shipping- customers do not like dead needles, various export destinations require it and it can remove unwanted hitch hikers. Like so many jobs, there are practices that make shaking more (or less) effective. There also are items we have little control over- like rain and temperature. So, lets look at some of the components of shaking that we can control.
Each shaker model is different and many growers have made modifications to improve the one they own. Yet, most all of them have a receiving cone that the tree base fits inside. For the shaking to be most effective the motion of the cone must be transferred to the entire tree. Two items that do not allow proper shaking are short bases and cones that fill with needles. Some suggestions:

•    Tree bases should be pruned to sufficient height so that the base of the tree will fit in the receiving cone. If not, the stiff lower branches act as shock absorbers and reduce the shaking efficiency.

•    The receiving cone on the shaker should be cleaned out frequently. The cone tends to quickly fill with needles and if the needles are allowed to build up, these act as a shock absorber and minimize the value of shaking. Some cones are self-cleaning or are open on the sides to allow debris to shake out automatically.

As trees are shaken debris piles build up. Besides containing dead needles, the piles likely contain pests, some still living.  These pests can migrate to nearby harvested trees causing recontamination. So be very wary about where you set your newly shaken trees. And get rid of the piles of needles or move the shaking operation away from these needle piles frequently.

Wet, cold trees do not shake well, but we have little control over that. Shaking trees at an angle seems to work better than vertically, but can be very hard on workers. If we have warmer, dry weather, yellow jackets from shaken trees or nearby fields can easily move into tree piles and trailers waiting for shipment. Some type of netting exclosure is one effective method of keeping trees clean as is shutting the open trailer doors.

Best wishes for your harvest this year. Producing a clean tree for the customer is not easy and involves practices that begin long before the harvest starts.

2013 Christmas Tree Advisory Committee
Mark Arkills
Holiday Tree Farms, Inc.
NW Cornell Ave                                         
Corvallis, OR  97330
Phone 503-753-3236
Casey Grogan                                                                             
Silver Bells Tree Farm
3869 Victor Point Road
Silverton, OR  97381
Phone: 503-932-9713
Gayla Hansen                                                                             
Hansen Tree Farm
38973 S. Sawtell Rd.
Molalla, OR  97038
Phone: 503-829-9129
Cell: 503-519-2851
Terry Muilenburg                                                                     
Green Valley Farm
13501 S. Maple Grove Road
Molalla OR 97308
Phone 503-829-5096

Chal Landgren (non-voting)
OSU Christmas Tree Extension Specialist
North Willamette Research and Extension Center
15210 NE Miley Road
Aurora, OR 97002
Phone: 503-678-1264 Ext. 142
Bryan Ostlund (non-voting)                                                
Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association
P.O. Box 3366
Salem OR 97302
Phone 503-364-2942
Fax 503-581-6819
Jim Schaefer                                                                               
Holiday Specialtrees
36252 S. Kropf Rd
Woodburn, OR 97071
Phone 503-634-2246
Fax 503-634-2661
Mark Schmidlin
Schmidlin Farms
43095 NW Sunset Highway
Banks, OR  97106
Phone: 503-314-8484



State of Oregon Holiday Schedule
2013/2014 Holidays and Furloughs
November 11, 2013; Monday - Veterans Day

November 28, 2013Thursday - Thanksgiving Day 

December 25, 2013 ; Tuesday - Christmas

January 1, 2014; Wednesday - New Years

January 20, 2014; Monday - MLK Jr. Day

February 17, 2014; Monday - President's Day

May 26, 2014; Monday - Memorial Day

July 4, 2014; Friday- Independence Day

September 1, 2014; Monday - Labor Day 

November 11, 2014; Tuesday - Veterans Day

November 27, 2014; Thursday - Thanksgiving

December 25, 2014; Thursday - Christmas