Dozens of headlines this week have claimed that a humble mold is threatening to ruin Christmas. CBS News and the Associated Press reported that a root disease is killing Christmas trees across the country. The Northwest reports of the Christmas tree industry’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
A root rot mold called Phytophthora is a serious problem for Christmas tree farmers who grow Fraiser Firs in North Carolina. And a form of the mold does affect some noble firs in Oregon, the nation’s top Christmas tree producer. Gary Chastagner is a tree disease expert at Washington State University. He says the cost of root rot is far lower than news reports have claimed.
Chastager: “That figure that’s being reported of 300 million dollars has nothing to do with phytophthora root rot in Christmas tree plantations.”
Chastanger says reporters appear to have mixed up their phytophthora molds. Phytophthora can refer to dozens of different mold types. That 304 million dollars is the potential cost of Sudden Oak Death spreading in Oregon. It’s caused by another mold, which has never been found on Christmas tree farms.
Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting