The scientist some call “Mr. Christmas Tree” has already conquered conifer diseases, developed guidelines to keep cut trees fresh and helped introduce new species to the American market, reports The Seattle Times.
Now Gary Chastagner is using old-fashioned genetics to create a super-race of conifers immune to consumers’ No. 1 complaint about Christmas trees: needles that scatter like dandruff.
If the Washington State University professor succeeds, it will be a boon for housekeepers and a breakthrough for an industry disheartened by the popularity of fake trees.
“If we get the needle thing solved, that will be a huge development in our lifetime,” said Oregon tree farmer Jim Heater, past president of the National Christmas Tree Association and one of Chastagner’s biggest fans.
Just about any Christmas tree will stay fresh for three weeks if it gets enough water. But people cram trees into stands that barely hold a pint – then let them run dry.
Photo by The Seattle Times.