We are enjoying a mild winter again so hopefully our exotic plantings will get through another winter in good shape. So far the Korean, Siberian, and Meyer Spruce have shown the most promise of
being viable trees for Christmas tree growers in Minnesota. This spring we will be trying three new trees: Abies Nephrolepis or Manchurian fir and a Doug fir variety-’Glauca’ Kaniksu, and a cross
between the Veitch fir and a Balsam fir recently purchased from Itasca Greenhouse. The Manchurian fir is native to China. I have had it in my nursery for two years and so far it has done well
considering there has been so little snow cover. Bob Girardin had had good luck with it and recommended it to me.
The Doug fir is a variety selected by Lawyer Nursery in Montana. They have it listed as zone 4 hardiness and being very adaptable. It has a nice blue color so it would make a nice Christmas tree. North Dakota State University has made some other selections of Doug Fir that have shown some promise, so maybe there is a variety that will make it there.
We will be trying these new varieties at five new farms. They are Neil Kruegers Sprucegate Farm in Lake Elmo, Wolcyn’s Tree Farm in Cambridge, Happyland Tree Farm in Sandstone, Turck’s Tree Farm in Litchfield and Terry Howard’s farm up in Orr. Along with with Doug Hoffbauer’s farm in Proctor, these sites should give us a broad range of soil and climate types. These are all experienced growers and should be able to manage the trees well.
We would like to try Korean x Balsam and Korean x Corkbark fir in the future, along with a trial of various Balsam fir seed sources to evaluate which has the best qualities for Christmas tree production.
The winter of 2002-2003, the acid test for exotics
Mike Laine, Northern Minnesota Nursery, Floodwood , MN
Located in northern Minnesota , west of Duluth
Well there is always something good that comes out of bad situations. It was hard to find anything good after seeing a field of orange trees. My seed bill has been getting larger every year trying out the different trees, but now there are some trees that I just won't have to bother with anymore.
Here is a list of trees that we had planted and how they fared.
I would like to add that this winter was very unusual and this situation may not happen again for many years. We also lost a lot of Blue Spruce and the native balsams also had winter injury.
One last thing – deer like all fir trees.