Fraser firs may soon be in Georgia

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Tired of driving to North Carolina for your freshly cut Fraser fir Christmas tree? A UGA horticulturist is developing a hybrid tree that combines the Fraser with the Momi fir, a Japanese cousin of the popular Fraser. Georgia’s hot summers and mild winters make it difficult for farmers to grow Fraser firs in most of the state. While they will grow in north Georgia, the downside is the trees can be affected by a root fungus, which if not treated can kill infected plants. Fir trees also produce new growth very early in spring, which makes them susceptible to the freezing temperatures that sometimes pop up in late March and damage Georgia crops. The Momi fir made its debut in Georgia in the early 1990s. It can grow in Georgia, but farmers have to be careful to provide irrigation to young plants for two or three years and adjust soil pH. A downside to farmers: It takes six to eight years for the tree to reach a desirable Christmas tree size. Traditional Georgia Christmas tree species like Leland cypress and Virginia pine are mature enough to sell in three to four years.