WSU Helps Choose, Care For And Cover Capitol Christmas Tree

PULLMAN, Wash. -- For 35 years, the Capitol Christmas tree has been harvested from one of the 50 states and transported to Washington D.C. This year, Washington State is providing a majestic, picture-perfect, 45-year-old tree that will stand in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. during the holidays.

Washington State University scientist Gary Chastagner (Photo) played a role in its selection and care. WSU Extension's 4-H Network News crew is chronicling the 65.5-foot-tall tree's cross-country journey.

Contacted last spring, Chastagner advised the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington Department of Natural Resources on the post-harvest moisture and needle retention characteristics of the types of trees on the Olympic National Forest. He also is providing advice about the tree's care while it is on the road.

He and technician Kathy Riley attached a device on the flatbed truck that is transporting the tree to monitor the environmental conditions the tree is exposed to during its trip. They also collected foliage samples to measure the initial moisture of the tree, which will be compared to foliage samples collected once the tree arrives in the Nation's capitol.

So far, the tree is doing well, Chastagner said. The first samples to monitor moisture content, taken when the tree was harvested on Nov. 1, averaged just above 112 percent, which means that over half the weight of the tree was water. The samples that were taken two weeks later showed moisture content at 110 percent. (Read More)