A positive agri environmental pathway for the production of Christmas tree
The Christmas tree markets in Quebec have existed for 70 years. The harvesting of selected natural trees and the intensive production started during the 60’s, the production management was modified and it favoured the arrival of many enemies liable to cause important damages to trees. Without any intervention, it would have been difficult to reach the quality standards expected by the market.
The production management of Christmas trees have followed the same rhythm as the agriculture in general. Since some ten years now, a series of procedures were adopted to minimize the negative impacts on the modern agriculture and to develop a culture in harmony with the environment. Let us view the main actions that were undertaken.
Considering the fact that the production of Christmas trees is a culture, it is subject to the same governmental regulations when it comes to agri environment. Nowadays, the producers owning more than 15ha in Christmas trees must write an Agri Environmental Fertilization Program (PAED). This fertilization plan is conducted under the supervision of an agronomist. In the eventuality of a soil too rich, the use of fertilization is diminished.
The protection of the Christmas trees against weeds, diseases and insects are unavoidable. For the past few years, one cannot apply nor buy pesticides if the user has not succeeded in passing a competence test for application. The large majority of applicators have followed the appropriate training to facilitate the results of the exam. Being better informed, the applicators of pesticides can reduce the applications and, by the same token, reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Do you know about the integrated pest management control?
One can define the integrated pest management control as being a more respective approach of the environment by questioning, if needed, to apply insecticide or not.
To take a decision one must:
- Monitor and evaluate the importance of the enemies to control in the Christmas trees in the plantation.
- Evaluate if the critical threshold of the undesirable is reached.
- Evaluate if needed to intervene or not and which is the best moment.
- Select the product that would minimize the negative impact on the environment and if so, before applying a pesticide.
The Quebec Christmas Tree Grower Association (APANQ) favours the preventive integrated pest control measures have been taken to encourage its members to join in.
Indeed, this approach may look complex, taking into account the fact that there are many enemies or damaging insects in the Christmas tree production. In order to help the growers to take decisions specialized agrienviromental clubs exist in the identifying of ravaging enemies and diseases. The agricultural agronomists and technicians working in the field are experts in the localising and they play an important role in the reduction of pesticides used in the plantations. Their advice is much appreciated by the growers of Christmas trees.
The registration to the agrienvironmental clubs is on a voluntary basis. Most growers join in and understand very well this new integrate concept: They reduce in important ways the use of pesticides while harvesting trees of high quality that they will later on offer to the discerning consumers.
As a complimentary approach to this integrated concept, there is a network of phytosanitary surveillance composed of 11 observation sites spread out through the regions where growing Christmas trees is found. Based on the information collected weekly during spring, a bulletin is issued mentioning the state of the situation and the way to intervene according to the integrated management. More than 400 subscribers, participants and growers receive this bulletin.
The Christmas tree growers are made aware of the durable development concept. They have undertaken a responsible approach in this direction in the future concerning this cultural management and phytosanitary method. It is a good start; the Christmas tree growers intend to follow up on their research in order to improve their way of operating in collaboration with the environment surrounding us all.