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Bob Cregg

Bert Cregg: Christmas trees a boon to Michigan economy

Bob Cregg talks with Kirk Heinze on WJR

Bert Cregg is a Michigan State University horticulture professor, and says the Fraser fir has replaced the Scotch pine as the most-popular Christmas tree.

“The Fraser fir has really taken over because of its beautiful form, nice color and excellent needle retention,” Cregg says.

“If a tree holds on to 99 percent of its needles, that sounds pretty good until you learn that the average tree has 100,000 needles.  So if you lose one percent of your needles, you have 1,000 needles on the floor.”

Cregg also is growing several types of conifer and shade trees at his pot-in-pot research nursery. The trees are planted in pots filled with a pine bark and peat moss mix that is much lighter than soil, a feature that consumers like, he said. The pot-in-pot production system enables the trees to be sold as living Christmas trees.

“After the holidays, the consumer can plant the tree in their yard,” he says.

Cregg adds that Michigan is the nation’s third-largest Christmas tree producer and is unique in the variety of trees it can grow.

“We’re third in total sales and second in acreage,” he says.  “North Carolina and Oregon are the other two states that lead in this area, and we have about $40 million in annual sales.

“More and more, people are opting to cut their own trees rather than buying them at retail stores,” he adds. “Consumers are buying into the ‘experience economy’ and choosing to make their purchase a family event with reindeer petting, wagon rides, hot chocolate and more.”

Cregg hopes we all recycle our trees in an environmentally-responsible manner after the holidays.

“The big thing is not to let it end up in a landfill,” Cregg says.  “Try to get it to a place where it can be recycled in some way.  That’s really the greenest way to take care of it.”

Click on the arrow above to hear Cregg’s December 17 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk HeinzeGreening of the Great Lakes airs Fridays at 7 p.m. on News/Talk 760 WJR.

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