Christmas Tree Promotion Board


Research Topic Survey for Christmas Tree Growers

Now Available!  

The Christmas Tree Promotion Board is responsible for utilizing checkoff funds to promote real Christmas trees, and to support scientific, unbiased research addressing issues that are impacting Christmas Tree production.  Included in this newsletter is a short survey developed to gather input from Christmas tree producers about insect, disease and other issues that impact your ability to grow high quality Christmas trees.  The information collected by this survey will be used to direct the focus of research grant proposal requests and approvals.  Please take the time to complete this survey and return it via:

email to [email protected]

or by mail to:

Cyndi Knudson
Christmas Tree Promotion Board, Director of Research
2136 Brush Hill Lane
Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Survey Link: Research Topic Survey – Grower


Christmas Tree Research Projects Funded by the CTPB

FY 2020-2021

Like many aspects of life, Covid19 restrictions impacted Christmas tree research funded by the Christmas Tree Promotion Board (CTPB), due to limited travel, and limited access to field plots and other university facilities for researchers.  Projects funded by the CTPB in 2019 – 2020 will continue into the coming fiscal year, 2020-2021. 

The CTPB has approved additional research projects for funding for FY 2020-2021.  Thirteen projects were chosen, from a record number of grant proposal applications.  The CTPB will spend $280,000 for research in 2020-2021.  These thirteen projects demonstrate a diverse mix of research topics and growing regional impact.

Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) is the subject of two separate grants that add to current funding for research of this important pest.  A project at West Virginia University will study fungal bio-controls of EHS.  Control of EHS with chemical pesticides is challenging because chemical interventions are broad spectrum and may make matters worse by killing natural predators EHS.  Also, the life cycle of EHS makes their control even more challenging. A second cooperative Washington State University and North Carolina State University project will look at fumigation of harvested Christmas trees with ethyl formate to control the spread of this pest with Christmas tree shipments.

A continuation of the CoFirGE project, the CTPB will provide funds to Oregon State University for the collection of seed from the Trojan fir region that excelled in previous research.  The study of needle loss variation in top performing CoFirGE trees by Washington State University will also continue in the upcoming fiscal year.  These projects truly are a cooperative effort and include field plots in all major growing regions of the United States. 

Washington State University will receive funding for two studies that can greatly improve the availability of seed for the Christmas tree industry.  The first will examine the viability of Nordmann and Turkish fir seed that has been heat treated to control Megastigmus larvae.  The second project will study storage of Nordmann/Turkish seed to improve vigor and viability of stored seed. The increasing interest in growing exotic firs, such as Turkish, Trojan, and Nordmann firs, as Christmas trees in the United States is limited by the consistent availability of seed from proven high-quality seed sources of these species

Virginia Pine breeding research was funded for a second year with Texas A&M Forest Service to improve seedlings available for this important southern Christmas tree species. 

The effect of growing media and container geometry will be studied at North Carolina State University to provide guidelines for Christmas tree seedling and transplant producers.  In addition, funds were approved for Spotted Lanternfly education provided by Virginia Tech for Christmas tree producers in states newly impacted by this very invasive pest.  

The study of cultural and chemical control of coning in Fraser firs will be continued at Michigan State University.  This project will build on ongoing research to develop techniques for reducing cone formation through application of plant growth regulators (PGRs), post-emergent control of coning with organic herbicides, selection of Fraser fir for delayed coning, and understanding control of coning of true fir Christmas tree species.

Balsam fir genetic variation of needle retention and bud break will be investigated at the University of New Brunswick.  The data will provide information for use in managing Christmas tree production impacted by climate change.

Washington State University economists will determine the economic impact of Christmas tree production in major growing regions of the United States.  Growers will be asked, by the researchers, to participate in a survey to flesh out data obtained from other sources to obtain a complete picture of the impact our industry has on the economy. This information is key for supporting the continued operations of Christmas tree farms. Everyone needs to understand the role Christmas trees play in providing income, employment, and output as an industry. In this analysis, the two major segments in the Christmas tree industry will be included: wholesale producers and choose-and-cut.

Consumer related research was also addressed by the CTPB.  In FY 2019-20 the board approved a Consumer Survey that provided insights on consumer behaviors and attitudes toward Christmas trees.  For FY 2020-21 CTPB is working with a graduate student group at Oregon State University to identify several recommendations for retail location opportunities to increase sales of real Christmas trees.

The CTPB has funded over $1,000,000 of Christmas tree research.  We are committed to providing funds that improve the science behind producing and selling quality Christmas trees.


Request for Proposals

The CTPB annual request for Christmas tree research grant proposals is announced each May.  However, emergency project funding may be available at any time if an unexpected need arises in your area. 

The purpose of the Christmas Tree Promotion Board Competitive Research Grant Program is to establish and conduct research with respect to the image, desirability, use, marketability, quality, product development or production of Christmas trees; to the end that the marketing and use of Christmas trees may be encouraged, expanded, improved, or made more acceptable and to advance the image, desirability, or quality of Christmas trees.

Research means any type of test, systematic study, investigation, analysis and/or evaluation designed to advance the image, desirability, use, marketability, quality, product development, or production of Christmas trees, including but not limited to research related to cost of production, market development, testing the effectiveness of market development and promotional efforts, new species of Christmas trees and environmental issues relating to the Christmas tree industry.

Priorities set for the last grant cycle funding included but are not exclusive to:

  • Genetic Improvement – All species, all growing regions
  • Environmental Benefit of Real Trees – Carbon, Green space, Sustainability
  • Insect/Pest Management – scale, aphid, slug, mite, chalcid, wildlife, roundup resistant weeds,
  • Improved technology – labor reduction, safety, cost benefit, quality of end product (baling materials, baler pulling devices, shaking, tree display stands, cut tree water use, Christmas tree allergies)
  • Disease Management/Resistance – PhytophthoraPassalora,

Please email [email protected] for additional information.


Christmas Tree Research:  A Growing Investment

The science behind growing and caring for Christmas trees is constantly evolving.  The Christmas Tree Promotion Board is dedicated to funding scientifically sound, unbiased research that will have far reaching impacts on the industry. Over a million dollars has been invested in a slate of research projects designed to produce high quality Christmas trees, manage ever increasing production costs, and minimize environmental impact.  Listed below are projects that are complete, and ongoing, being funded by Christmas Tree Promotion Board Checkoff funds from 2016 to 2021.

  • The Collaborative Fir Germplasm Evaluation (CoFirGE) project is designed to identify regionally adapted sources of Turkish and Trojan firs that produce excellent Christmas trees, and to obtain a better understanding of how site and environmental conditions are affecting the growth and postharvest quality of Turkish and Trojan firs.

     Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Washington State University, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University $89,173

  • Understanding the Impact of Elongate Hemlock Scale on Select Tree Species Native to Florida

     North Carolina State University $29,750

     University of Florida $5,470

  • Survey of Slug Species and Development of IPM Strategies for Management of Slugs on Christmas Trees

     Oregon State University $65,000

     Washington State University $15,000

  • Managing Cone Formation on Fraser Fir

     Michigan State University $92,255

  • Fraser Fir Cone Control Research

     North Carolina State University $15,903

  • Developing Strategies for Leader Control in Nordmann and Turkish Fir

     Oregon State University, Michigan State University $12,200

  • Spray Drones to Apply Agricultural Materials to Christmas Trees

     North Carolina State University $39,600

  • Post-Entry Elimination of Megastigmus Seed Larvae in Imported Conifer Seed

     Washington State University, Oregon State University $27,575

  • Enhanced Establishment and Growth of Bareroot Transplants Using Controlled-Release Fertilizers

     Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station $1,000

  • Management Options for Herbicide Resistant Weeds in Christmas Tree Production

     North Carolina State University $41,629

  • Effectiveness of Preharvest Application of 1-MCP in Reducing Needle Loss on Cut Christmas Trees

     Washington State University $32,519

  • Evaluation of Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) Seed Sources for U.S. Christmas Tree Production

     Oregon State University, Washington State University, Pennsylvania State University $76,839

  • Twig Weevil- A small poorly understood pest inflicting havoc in the PNW export markets

     Washington State University, Oregon State University $95,331

  • Susceptibility of Trojan fir to Phytophthora Root Rot

     Washington State University $26,040

  • Exploring Sustainable Management for Armored Scales in Christmas Tree Plantations

     Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station $36,528

  • Investigating Soil Acidification Mechanisms for Inhibiting Phytophthora

     Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station $22,000

  • Regional Variation in Needle Loss from Trees in CoFirGE Planting Sites

    Washington State University, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University, North Carolina State University, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Michigan State University $30,596

  • Surveying for Oregonian Slugs in Hawaii with the Goal of Removing their Quarantine Status

     Oregon State University $9,976

  • Spotted Lanternfly: A New Exotic Pest Threatening the Mid-Atlantic Christmas Tree Industry

     Pennsylvania State University $4,598

  • Breeding to produce the next generation of Virginia Pine for Texas/Oklahoma Markets

     Texas A & M Forest Service $14,122

  • Incorporation of Soil Amendments for Managing Phytophthora Root Rot in Fraser Fir in North Carolina

     North Carolina State University $14,264

  • Efficacy of ethyl formate fumigation in eradicating elongate hemlock scale on Christmas trees

     Washington State University $5,946

  • Quantifying genetic variation in needle retention and timing of bud flush in Balsam Fir Christmas Trees for improved performance under climate change in the northeast

     University of New Brunswick $12,133

  • Improving the viability and vigor of Nordmann and Turkish fir seeds in long-term storage

     Washington State University $33,339

  • Spotted Lanternfly Training for Christmas Tree Growers

     Virginia Tech $5993

  • Isolation and development of effective fungal biocontrol for elongate hemlock scale

     West Virginia University $40,000

  • Effect of Growing Media Properties and Container Geometry on Fraser Fir Germination and Transplant Success

     North Carolina State University $41,331

  • Economic Impacts of Christmas Tree Growing Regions of the U.S.

     Washington State University $40,000

  • Viability and Vigor of Heat-Treated Nordmann and Turkish Fir Seed

     Washington State University $19,583

In addition to the projects listed above, the CTPB has funded just over $41,000 of consumer research.