Nova Scotia

Funding urged for smart Christmas tree research

The Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia is asking local growers to invest in the science of growing the perfect Christmas tree.
The Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia is asking local growers to invest in the science of growing the perfect Christmas tree. (cougarbiology.pbworks.com)

The Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia is asking local growers to invest in the science of growing the perfect Christmas tree.

The SMART Christmas Tree Research Co-operative is trying to raise $350,000 to fund research into growing a balsam fir that stays fresher for a longer period of time.

"We had a very good turnout at our first annual Christmas tree research update where several of the researchers presented their findings to date," said Georg Ernst, the president of the co-operative.

"I think everybody left that very, very pleased and their interest peaked in the research that has been accomplished to date."

Christmas tree growers have said they want a balsam fir that can retain its needles for longer so the trees can be shipped further away.

The research, which is being spearheaded by the Christmas Tree Research Centre at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, is expected to cost $6 million.

The project has already received some money from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, which awarded the college with $2.4 million over five years from the Atlantic Innovation Fund.

In order to raise its share of funding, the SMART Christmas Tree Research Co-operative is also selling preferred shares in the co-op for $500.

Ernst said about $50,000 has been collected so far.

"If the demand for SMART trees throughout the world is improved, that helps drive up the price within the local level as well because people, they want that branded tree," he said.

Scientists at the Christmas Tree Research Centre have discovered that by blocking the ethylene production in trees, needles stay on longer.

Once a method or product is developed, the SMART Christmas Tree Research Co-operative intends to patent it.

Gerry Travis, a Christmas tree grower in Mira, said he hasn't bought shares in the co-operative but would consider investing.

"I'd like to become more familiar with it first, I have a bit of knowledge of it but it's something I would like to review and understand a bit better," he said.

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