Christmas tree stocks healthy despite disease

Ledbury Reporter: FINE FIRS: Coddington Christmas Tree Farm owner Colin Palmer says trade is good as an airborne fungus targets Nordmann firs. Picture: Nick Toogood 4712181901 FINE FIRS: Coddington Christmas Tree Farm owner Colin Palmer says trade is good as an airborne fungus targets Nordmann firs. Picture: Nick Toogood 4712181901

CHRISTMAS tree stocks are healthy at the district’s biggest producers amid signs of an airborne fungus taking root across the UK.

With 6,000 trees, Leigh Sinton Christmas Trees, near Malvern, is ready for the tree-buying season.

Manager Nick Beard says cutting will begin in earnest within a few days, and customers are expected to start arriving this weekend.

Already, commercial clients such as garden centres, wholesalers and schools are buying up the firm’s stock.

However, one worry is a tree-killing fungus called ‘current season needle necrosis’, affecting the most valuable variety of tree stocked – the Nordmann fir.

Mr Beard said although there had been some cases among his stock, the problem was “a minor worry”

unlike the scale of destruction wrought by an unrelated ash fungus.

There has been an increase in cases nationally this year, partly due to the wet summer and growers in the south-east are starting to see commercially damaging levels of infection.

The fungus turns the usually green firs brown, and can kill them.

“There is a lot of research about how and when is best to treat it with fungicides, but no definitive answer as yet, so we’re monitoring the situation,” said Mr Beard.

“It is a slight worry when we’re marking up our trees in the summer, and you see signs of this fungus – which you know you cannot sell.

Meanwhile, Coddington Christmas Tree Farm, near Ledbury, has largely escaped the fungus.

Owner Colin Palmer said: “It’s not that usual for us.

We’ve had five trees affected this year out of 10,000. It’s not a problem.”

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