DCSIMG

Fake or real festive trees?

Liberty Carlton from the Forestry Commission stacks cut pine, spruce and fir Christmas trees ready for sale to the public at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield, Hampshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 5, 2011. Photo credit should read: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Liberty Carlton from the Forestry Commission stacks cut pine, spruce and fir Christmas trees ready for sale to the public at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield, Hampshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 5, 2011. Photo credit should read: Chris Ison/PA Wire

However much fake Christmas trees have improved over the years, I don’t think I’ll ever allow myself to buy one, as they never match the colour, texture and scent of the real thing, writes Hannah Stephenson.

However, it seems I’m in the minority, as according to a new Which? report, less than one in five of us will have a real Christmas tree this year.

It’s a claim disputed by many garden centres, which say the sales of their real trees haven’t diminished and that this year should be a bumper year for quality trees because of the strong new growth they will have made thanks to the heavy rainfall in the past couple of years.

There has been concern that prices of real trees may be higher this year because of a mysterious disease called current season needle necrosis (CSNN) which has hit British-grown Christmas trees, turning needles brown during the summer before they drop off.

CSNN is associated with a fungus which is similar to apple scab, causing some of the needles in Nordmann firs to go brown in July and August.

However, this year’s trees won’t be affected as only healthy trees are cut for sale, according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA).

However, CSNN could affect the number of marketable trees in future years if it continues to hit UK and European trees, the association warns.

It has been a problem for Christmas tree growers in the US for many years, but it is only in the last two years that it has become more noticeable in the European crop.

The tree fungus scare could be a storm in a teacup, says Tim Clapp, head of trees and horticulture for The Garden Centre Group, which represents 129 UK garden centres.

“It won’t affect our supplies at all,” he says.

“Necrosis is nothing new and it’s not a killer which would wipe out fields of Nordmanns. Customers need not worry because a tree with necrosis won’t be cut and put out for sale, because it looks dead.

“I think it’s hit the press because of the problem we’ve got with ash dieback.”

“Necrosis is nothing new and it’s not a killer which would wipe out fields of Nordmanns. Customers need not worry because a tree with necrosis won’t be cut and put out for sale, because it looks dead.

“I think it’s hit the press because of the problem we’ve got with ash dieback.”

Necrosis has not affected award-winning garden centre chain Hillier’s supplies and in fact it’s been such a great growing year for trees that Hillier is dropping its prices.

A 6ft Nordmann will cost £39.99, £5 less than last year, said a spokeswoman.

 

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