|For immediate release: December 7, 2023
Program contact: Amber Neils, 517-449-0786
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724
MDARD helps Michigan Christmas tree farms spread holiday cheer across the U.S.
LANSING – Every year, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) helps farmers ensure their trees are free of invasive spongy moth (Lymantria dispar), providing the certification needed to safely deliver Christmas trees to households across the U.S.
“Christmas tree production is a large part of Michigan’s multi-million dollar green industry,” said Mike Philip, MDARD’s Bureau of Environment and Sustainability Director. “Farmers rely on this certification to support their business and enable safe trade.”
Spongy moth caterpillars can defoliate trees, leaving trees vulnerable to diseases and other pests and can eventually kill the tree. Although Christmas tree species are generally not the top feeding choice for spongy moth, they will feed on and lay egg masses on any Christmas tree species.
Certification is required to meet guidelines implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Federal Spongy Moth Quarantine to limit the spread of spongy moth. Since Michigan has confirmed spongy moth populations in every county, the entire state lies within the area regulated under the quarantine and all plant material, including cut Christmas trees shipped from within Michigan to areas outside of the quarantine zone, must be inspected and have proper certification before transport.
Michigan ranks third in the nation for the number of Christmas trees harvested, supplying over 2 million fresh trees – with an annual net value of $30-$40 million – to the national market each year. There are more than 560 Christmas tree farms on a combined 37,000 acres across the state, ranging from large wholesale farms, to choose and cut farms, to small farms with a few acres selling pre-cut trees.
“Many states don’t have the right climate or soil conditions to grow Christmas trees,” added Philip. “By helping Michigan farmers get this certification, we’re helping families across the country have real, fresh-cut Christmas trees this holiday season.”
Watch how MDARD inspects Michigan Christmas Trees each year helping to spread holiday cheer, here.
To learn more about MDARD’s Christmas tree program, visit www.michigan.gov/mdard/