Shearing Date Affects Growth and Quality of Fraser Fir Christmas Trees

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.] Christmas trees were sheared once annually over 4 years on dates ranging from July to March. Shearing reduced total tree growth. Trees sheared in July and August had the highest quality and retail value. Early shearing (July and August) yielded fewer leaders, longer leaders, and 35% to 66% more internodal branches on the leader, compared to later shearing (September through March). Early shearing also yielded more second-order laterals, followed by greater elongation of those laterals. Shearing late into the fall yielded progressively fewer branches, with the minimum in October. Shearing in March gave a little better results than October, but neither date was as good as July or August. In one experiment, two types of residual tip buds (bubble and whisker) were compared as future leaders. Differences in length and straightness of leaders derived from whisker and bubble buds were considered negligible in commercial shearing practice. The ratio of adaxial and abaxial buds on the proximal portion of the leader was about 1:1, and showed little change with shearing date. Distance from the base of the leader to the first abaxial branch also showed little variation among shearing dates.

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