Yule Tidings Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association's Official Newsletter

February 2002 Volume 16, Number 1


New Growers Seminar, Salado March 22
Region 3 Field Day, Salado March 23
Region 2 Field Day, April 20
Region 1 Field Day, Canton April 20
2002 Convention, Tyler Sep.27-29




3419 Nodding Pines
Spring, Texas 77380
281) 367-5745
E-mail: ldreesen@ev1.net


EDITOR: Lanny Dreesen

YULE TIDINGS is published by the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association to help meet the needs of people growing and marketing Christmas trees in Texas.

YULE TIDINGS is published three times a year in February, June, and October. Deadlines for artwork, ads and articles are listed below, sooner is helpful.

EDITORIAL: Articles, announcements and artwork dealing with any aspect of Christmas tree production and marketing will be considered for publication. Preference is normally given to proven methods, processes, etc. applicable to Texas. Editor is not responsible for views expressed in signed articles. All communications with or concerning articles, photos, etc. should be sent to Lanny Dreesen, 3419 Nodding Pines, Spring, Texas 77380, (281) 367-5745. Or E-mail: ldreesen@ev1.net.

The opinions expressed by the writers in by-lined articles are their own and not necessarily those of YULE TIDINGS or TCTGA.

The publishers of YULE TIDINGS assume no responsibility for accuracy and validity of claims in advertising or editorial reports.



Full Page: $120.00

2/3 Page: 102.00

1/2 Page: 80.40

1/4 Page: 48.00


February 12 for February 28 issue

May 14 for May 30 issue

October 10 for October 26 issue

September 27-29, 2002, Tyler, TX
Host Region 1

NCTA Conference
Grand Rapids, MI
August 14-17, 2002




PRESIDENT: Jackie Merkett

785 FM 1794W

Beckville, Texas 75631

(903) 678-2359


Route 2, Box 580

Meridian, Texas 76665



Spring Creek Growers

P.O. Box 613

Tomball, Texas 77377



13202 Lakecrest Drive

Cypress, Texas 77429



242 Monkey Road

Elgin, Texas 78621



Region 1

Mike Posey 2002 (903) 640-5609

Claudette McNew 2003 (903) 356-2195

Jerry Rogers 2004 (903)675-3909

Region 2

Jane Scott 2002 (281) 351-0818

Lanny Dreesen 2003 (281)367-5745

Damian Prause 2004 (281)370-9141

Region 3

Edward Buscha 2002 (979) 249-5867

Duane Patrick 2003 (817)790-2400

Bob Childress 2004 (254)725-6596


Beth Walterscheidt (512)281-4833


TCTGA President by Jackie Merket

Well, here it is time to start over, a new season. Hopefully, a better year than the last (9-11) and a good year for our state association. I would like to talk a little about some of the things TCTGA does for you.


For anyone who does not know, if it were not for the association, we would not have the Texas seed source for our seedlings. In the late 1970s, Jim Chandler, Extension Forester in Overton, collected seeds from several southern states. The TCTGA and the Texas Forest Service planted a seed orchard at Magnolia Springs, Texas.

With the first seeds produced by those original trees, progeny (offspring) tests were set up throughout East Texas to see how the different families (original trees) performed here in Texas. After six years of testing, the poorest performers were "rogued" from the seed orchard to improve the overall quality of seedlings produced for Texas growers. It was the most thoroughly tested seed source for Virginia pine in the South.

Because of the cooperation between the TCTGA, in helping fund the research and operation of the seed orchard, and the Texas Forest Service that keeps the records and manages the orchard, we receive one half of the seed each year. We sell seeds to International Paper to grow seedlings for us. We also buy seedlings from the TFS that are grown from their half of the orchard’s production. We have improved our seed orchard over the years by conducting these progeny tests.

This year, we are starting a new progeny test on three farms scattered throughout East Texas. One will be in Kilgore, one in Bellville, and one in Jasper. In a few years you should be able to see the results from these tests. This is just one of the things that TCTGA does for our members.


The website (www.texaschristmastrees.com) and the membership signs all are benefits. The website lets people know you’re there and what you have to offer. The membership signs let people know you’re part of an organization that cares and is responsible. The committees our association has are a great source of information, too. They are comprised of many experienced growers who want to help as much as they can, please feel free to contact them. If you are a new grower, call and visit with an "older" grower; the information you will get is priceless.

You know, when you stop and think about it, where can you get all of this help and information, as a tree grower, for $7.09 a month?

To go back to talking about seedlings, if you purchased yours from IP you may have noticed the new tag on the box: "Nutrient Loaded." I talked to Beverly Peoples, Nursery Manager, at IP about this. She referred me to an article by Dr. David R. South (Prof. of Forestry, Auburn University) in the bimonthly newsletter of the Nurseries & Orchards Group of International Paper.) He feels that nitrogen in the nursery improves after out- planting and that the treatment is very inexpensive. "The potential benefit vs. cost ratio is great." Thank you, International Paper!

These are just some of the benefits of being a member; room just doesn’t allow me to keep going.




By Beth Walterscheidt, Texas Director, NCTA

NCTA’s membership drive is continuing and all of you in the industry are encouraged to be a part of this group. WHY? How about the fact that NCTA is our voice in Washington on legislative issues. At this time NCTA is working hard to get the Christmas tree business recognized as an agricultural industry. The benefits would be felt just for the fact that OSHA would leave us alone. Can you imagine trying to work within the confines of OSHA on the farm work that is done? Think what we, as small farms, would have to do even during sell season to comply with their wishes. It should be worth your hard earned dollars to encourage NCTA to help with this issue. We can’t do it alone.

The NCTA Journal has been a popular publication. A recent readership survey found that 63% of the readers spent 1-2 hours reading the Journal. 60% of the readers kept the Journal over 1 year to forever. What does this tell us about the publication?

1. It has a lot of stuff that is pertinent to the industry. 2. It is an excellent reference and is kept for that purpose.

The last Journal did a feature on barns and the next issue in March will feature weddings on a Christmas tree farm. Another issue that has been passed out at the convention and board meetings featured potted, living Christmas trees and also the RealTrees4Kids program to help educators and encourage field trips to Christmas tree farms.

To become a member you can contact Beth Walterscheidt, Texas National Director, or contact NCTA 314/205/0944 or visit their website, www.realchristmastrees.org



JANUARY 26, 2002

By Mike Walterscheidt, Executive Secretary

Board Members Present:

Ed Buscha Damien Prause

Bob Childress Kenneth Radde

Lanny Dreesen Jerry Rogers

Dennis Gunia Jane Scott

Jackie Merket Beth Walterscheidt

Duane Patrick

Board Members Absent:

Bob Jones

Claudette McNew

Mike Posey

Others Present:

Cliff Mayben

Mike Walterscheidt

Call to order, establish quorum, invocation: The meeting was called to order by President Merket at 9:10 AM. A quorum of 11 members was declared. Dreesen delivered the invocation.

Approval of Minutes: A motion was made to approve the minutes as written; motion was seconded; motion approved.

Financial Report: The financial report was given by Walterscheidt. A motion was made to approve the action taken by Merket and Walterscheidt to move $4,000 from the Research Account to General Account; seconded; approved. This money was moved to cover the bill due to the convention hotel that was due at the end of November and there was insufficient cash in the bank to pay that bill. There was some discussion on what to do when the CD matures in March. It was decided that the Budget Committee and the Executive Director, may, as they deem necessary, decide to move some money from the reserve into the general account.

There was a motion to approve the financial report; seconded; approved.

Membership: There was no official report. There was discussion that said the Executive Secretary should be the primary contact for new members. All information will be sent to the Executive Secretary. Regional field days should be (missing text). When a potential new member is known, the Regional President will be notified and he/she should either initiate a contact or have someone in the region initiate contact.

Seedling Report: Rogers submitted a report which is attached. IP has been paid and the TFS will bill for seedlings. The number needed will be lowered next year. Special thanks were given to Jerry Rogers for heading the seedling distribution program.

Convention Reports:

a) 2001 . A financial report for the 2001 Convention was given by Walterscheidt. This reported a substantial loss. (Exec. Sec. Note: However, additional information was recovered that is in the revised Convention report showing the Convention made a small profit.)

There was some discussion on why people are not attending the conventions. Dreesen will develop some questions for "Yuletidings" that will seek to find what the members desire in their conventions.

b) 2002 Reports were submitted by McNew and Bozeman, attached. A short discussion was held about the 2002 Convention and a final report will be given at the May Board Meeting. A motion was made to direct the 2002 Convention committee to keep exhibitor fees the same as in 2001, even though our costs may be less: seconded; approved.

At this point there was mention of the New Growers Seminar and a schedule was distributed.

Marketing Committee: A report was submitted by Enzerink. Jackie will call Kathy Enzerink about maintaining the media contacts. It was decided by the Board that the Marketing Brochure does not need to be printed in 2002.

State Fair: Report by Poseys. There was some discussion on whether the TCTGA needed to support a State Fair Booth. It is difficult to get people to work the booth.. It was also mentioned that if we do not produce the Marketing Brochure, we do not need the booth. The work at Six Flags had a mixed reaction and it was decided we can continue this, if desired by those who would be working the Six Flags Scene. A motion was made not to have the State Fair Booth in 2002; seconded; approved unanimously by a show of hands.

Media Awards: Report submitted by Marge Gunia. All nominations for the 2002 Awards should be submitted by April 15.

Web Site Report: Dennis Gunia reported (Ed.: see later in Yuletidings). He also stated there were no complaints this year (2001). He needs volunteers to make changes, as necessary, and will likely ask people to help. There was some discussion on whether to include retailers in the web site and the association. Gunia agreed to continue as chair.

NCTA Report: Beth Walterscheidt reported on the February Market Conference in Tucson and also mentioned the Conference in Grand Rapids on August 14-17, 2002. Information on the lead content of artificial trees was not made public because of the events of 9/11/01. She stressed the web site, "realtrees4kids.org" should be looked at and shared with educators.

Research Committee: Don Kachtik will head this committee. It will be consolidated with the seedling committee.

Regional Reports: Region 1 Field Day is likely April 27; Region 2 Field Day is April 20 at the Gunia’s Farm and Region 3 Field Day is March 23 Burnett’s Farm.

Newsletter: A short discussion on advertisements and the need to have more. The deadlines to get information in the newsletter are February 1, June 1 and October 7. (ed. Ad deadlines are on the inside front cover.)

Old Business: There was some discussion about the Federal Specialty Crop Grant Program and how it was used in Texas. A motion was made to send a letter to Agricultural Commissioner Susan Combs expressing our concerns; seconded; approved. Each board member signed a sheet and Walterscheidt will draft the letter to be sent.

The problems with Road Signage were discussed briefly. Beth Walterscheidt and Dennis Gunia will co-chair a committee to see that action is put in motion to change some of the policies.

New Business: President Merket appointed a budget committee to consist of the officers to develop a 2002-2003 budget for presentation at the May Board meeting in Tyler.

There was also some discussion on conventions; perhaps the structure of the convention needs to be changed to a fall "super" field day and a winter convention; or a convention each two years. No action was taken.

Date of Next Meeting: The next meeting will be on May 4 at 9:00 AM in Tyler.

Adjournment: A motion was made and seconded to adjourn; meeting as adjourned at 11:45 AM.


Texas Capitol Gets Texas Christmas Trees

(left to right) Mrs. Bill Ratliff, Jackie Merket, Jim Wilson, Debbie Merket, Marianna Wilson. December 2001.

Delivering tree to Capitol


Jackie & Debbie Merket in White House visiting while delivering tree to Camp David, December, 2001.



By Lauren Vargas-Gee, Wilson & Company, Fort Worth

FORT WORTH. First Lady Laura Bush received something from her home state of Texas to decorate for the holidays at the residence in Camp David. On Wednesday, December 12, 2001, a Texas-grown Leyland Cypress Christmas tree was presented at Camp David by Jackie Merket, President of the TCTGA, and his wife Debbie, along with Jim and Marianna Wilson of Fort Worth.

This marked the fifth year the Bush Family has enjoyed a Texas-grown Christmas tree for the holidays. While President Bush was the governor of Texas, the TCTGA made an annual presentation of a Texas tree to start off the holiday season.

The trees were brought to Camp David in a restored 1952 Chevrolet pickup owned and driven by Donald Yeakle and accompanied by the president of the Mason-Dixon Region, Antique Automobile Club of American, Thomas Adelsberger. The tree presented was an eight foot tall Leyland Cypress grown on the Merket Christmas Tree Farm, Beckville, Texas.

Earlier in December, the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association presented Christmas trees to the Texas Governor, Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House for the enjoyment of these public servants and their staffs.





by Denny Gunia , Web Site Committee Chairman

Activity on the web site was up over 60% for both "hits" and "visit sessions" during the November-December, 2001, period compared to the same time period in 2000. The "visit sessions" per farm listed on each regional map are as follows for the November and December time period:

		Visits/Farm        2000       2001
		Southeast Texas      16         57  
		Northeast Texas      43         64 
		Houston/Bryan        53         82 
		Dallas/Waco          85        120 
		Austin/San Antonio   67        138
		Abilene             144        276 

		All Farms Average    60        100 

In summary, the TCTGA web site exposed your Christmas tree farm to a lot of potential customers regardless of where you were in Texas. I suspect every farm listed should have seen customers who found them because of the web site.

Currently, we have four volunteers, Ken Martin, Ann Aldridge, Mike Posey and I who are keeping this web site working, and updated. Well, we need more volunteers. The only requirement is that you have e-mail. We will train. In addition, we will have no meetings and should not take more than an hour of your time per month.

I am sure the thought has crossed your mind of why not hire someone to do this. Well, this option costs money, big money, and is way beyond the scope of our existing membership dues structure. Your volunteering is the only way we can afford to keep this web site affordable and functioning.

If I do not receive any offers of help, I will be contacting you. My email address is millhollo@aol.com. Also, this is your web site. We need your ideas, suggestions and complaints.

2000 Media Award

by Marge Gunia, Media Chair

This year the committee judged 25 articles. Keep up the good work and send in those articles.

The winners for this year are:

Daily Paper –Kathy Huber, "Houston Chronicle"

Weekly/Monthly Article – Teresa Parsons, "Sealy News"

Article Highlighting an Individual Farm – Kathy Smith, "Hood County News"

Kathy Huber and Kathy Smith received their awards at the convention. Teresa Parsons could not attend the convention. Ken and Judy Martin nominated her article and will present the plaque to Teresa at a convenient time.

Remember, the committee hopes you have articles from your local paper and saved them to send in for the 2001 media award judging. Please clip and send to me any 2001 articles on Texas Christmas trees, even if you think they do not meet all the criteria.

To make judging easier, please follow the criteria below in submitting your 2001 news article.


    1. Name, address and circulation number (how many readers) – newspapers will have this number).
    2. Daily, weekly or monthly, publication?
    3. Name and address of news reporter, or person responsible at the paper, for placing the article, or articles.
    4. Date article/articles appeared in the paper.
    5. Your name, address and phone number.

News articles sent must be original, not photo copies of the original, and they must be received by May 1, 2002.

Send articles and cards to: Marge Gunia, 13202 Lakecrest Drive, Houston, Texas 77429






By Dr. Tom Byram, Texas Forest Service, College Station

There has never been a truer adage than this one, especially when it comes to producing a crop of Virginia pine Christmas trees. A native of the Appalachian foothills in Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas, Virginia pine is a recently introduced exotic in Texas. As a result it is not naturally adapted to our hot summers. And anyone who’s grown them knows they don’t make a Christmas tree if left on its own.

Fortunately, Virginia pine shows inherited variation in adaptability, growth rate, crown conformation, needle texture and color. All we have to do to make improvements in these traits is to do careful observation and select parents that produce seedlings with the desired traits. That is where this year’s series of progeny tests comes in. James Robinson of Kilgore, Ken Martin of Bellville and Lawrence Root of Jasper will be planting seedlings from 40 different parent trees.

Each grower will plant approximately 1,200 study trees for which individual records will be kept. The information gleaned from these seedlings will allow the parents to be ranked fro their desirability as seed trees. Then only the very best parents will be used to produce seedlings especially selected for Christmas tree production under Texas’ growing conditions. By capitalizing on the naturally occurring variation within the Virginia pine species, the Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association will have the next generation of genetically improved Virginia pine.

Progeny testing is indeed the "proof in the pudding" that only willing growers can provide.


For Sale:

The following is a list of equipment I have for sale:

1 - Cash register, Casio electric $ 75

1 - 12' lowboy trailer w/ seats $ 200

1 - Tree shaker $ 200

1 - SAJE 8' tree trimmer $ 400

1 - 20" baler w/ table $ 100

1 - Swihart mist blower sprayer, 55 gal. $ 600

1 - lot, misc tools, knive, saws, planting

bars, max tapners, etc. $ 100

Contact: Bob Allison
231 Golfview Dr. North
PO Box 1005
Hilltop Lakes, Tx 77871
(936) 855-1853



This is an election year and, in these kinds of years, it seems polls are everywhere. Not wanting to be left out and appear to be behind the times, the Board of Directors asked that a poll (they said questionnaire) be put in this issue of Yuletidings to ask what you thought about the 2001 convention. Your responses will help guide planning for future convention.

Please take a moment to provide your answers to the following questions and get them to one of your regional directors. Perhaps you could do it at your regional field day.

  1. Did you attend the 2001 Convention in Houston?

___ Yes ___ No

If your response was "No", please tell us why. _________________________________________________


  1. If "Yes" in question 1, tell us what you liked or disliked, below:
    1. Liked: ______________________________________________________________________
    2. Disliked: ______________________________________________________________________
  2. How much are you willing to pay for a convention registration fee? $_______
  3. How much are you willing to pay in total convention costs? $______
  4. How do TCTGA convention total costs compare to other business conventions you attend/attended, recently? ____ Higher ___ Lower ___ Don’t know.
  5. What format (number of days, programming, scheduling) changes would you like to see in the TCTGA convention? ____________________________________________________________________________________
  6. hat time of year do you think would be best for the convention?

___ Winter ___ Spring ___ Summer ___ Fall