USDA Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Pacific Northwest Research Station
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Portland, OR 97204

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US Forest Service


News Releases: 2003

2003 | 2002 |

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Harvests of Noble Fir Boughs Tracked With Computer Model

USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station

Portland, OR: December 17, 2003


Media assistance: Sherri Richardson-Dodge, (503) 808-2137

PORTLAND, Ore. December 17, 2003. Harvest of boughs from forest stands in the Cascade Mountains are the mainstay of the holiday greenery industry in the Pacific Northwest. But, few growers have had a scientific way of measuring how many boughs they could harvest from a stand of fir.


Roger Fight, a research forester at the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, has developed a computer model that estimates the volume of noble fir boughs that can be expected from stands of noble fir. The model is based on a sample of 322 noble fir trees from which boughs were cut and weighed.


“Boughs traditionally used at this time of year to make wreaths, door swags, garlands and other Christmas products are mostly harvested by small seasonal businesses for manufacture into products by large companies,” says Fight. “I became aware that many sales of boughs were conducted on estimates of volume that were based on unscientific approaches. These sales were done on a fixed price for the boughs from an area.”


Unreliable estimates may result in harvesters bidding low to compensate for the high risk involved in bidding a fixed price for an unreliable estimate of volume. Sometimes harvesters go broke as a result of a bad estimate of volume.


Noble fir is native to the Cascade and Coastal Range of Oregon and Washington and the Siskiyou Mountains of northern California. “The trees must have a hard frost before harvesting begins to achieve needle retention that will carry through the holiday season,” explains Fight. “Harvesting at high elevations (about 3,500 feet) usually occurs around October 1 and is completed by the middle of November. Low-elevation plantations for Christmas trees or boughs often don’t receive a hard frost until later. The producers of holiday decorations normally expect to ship their bough products before Thanksgiving.”


Fight began the development of the software and users guide about 5 years ago. Both will be available in February 2004 from the Pacific Northwest Research Station. A photo guide, “Pacific Northwest Noble Fir: The King of Wreaths, Charms, and other Christmas Ornaments,” will be available through Washington State University Extension, a cooperator in the project. It provides descriptions of bough characteristics important for high-quality noble fir products.


US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
Last Modified: Monday,01August2016 at10:13:36CDT

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