Friday, April 25, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Rock doc: From Washington state to Washington, D.C.

By
December 11, 2013 | Leave Comment

I know we are still only in Advent. But at this point in December, my mind starts to turn toward Christmas. It just can’t be helped, especially in light of all the ads featuring Santa.
Christmas is about tradition: traditional foods, traditional songs, traditional church services. For a few geeks, Christmas is also an ideal time to get in a little bit of scientific research. What could be better than to combine some of the traditional activities of the season with the chance to learn a bit more about the natural world?
Katie McKeever is a graduate student in plant pathology at the Washington State University Research and Extension Center (REC) in Puyallup, Wash. She has been hard at work in recent weeks learning about how moisture is lost or retained from a truly mega-Christmas tree. An 88-foot-tall Engelmann spruce was recently shipped from north-central Washington state to what we natives of the Northwest call the “other Washington,” namely the District of Columbia.
It took some 25 days for the spruce to move from its home in Washington state to a place of pride at the Capitol in D.C. The 2013 National Christmas Tree was harvested from the Colville National Forest in Pend Oreille County. The last time Washington state gave the capital its Christmas tree was in 2006. That one came from the Olympic National Forest in the northwestern part of the state.
Once this year’s tree was cut, McKeever placed three small sensors in the canopy of the great tree as it lay on the bed of the semi that would haul it across the country.
“The sensors are data loggers that automatically record temperature every 15 minutes to provide statistics about the ambient environment inside the tree canopy,” McKeever told me.
Professor Gary Chastagner, also at the Puyallup REC, has long worked on various Christmas tree issues. He’s an expert on what’s called the post-harvest moisture and retention of needles of Christmas trees. To be sure, most Christmas trees are not 88 feet tall, but some of the issues with mega-trees and the kind in your living room are similar.
In general, helping Christmas trees retain moisture can help them keep their needles. If you are tired of trying to get a lot of needles out of your living room carpet each January (one tradition I would gladly skip), you might wish McKeever and Chastagner well with their work.
The research on the National Christmas Tree involves cooperation between the U.S. Forest Service and WSU. Forest Service technicians from the Colville National Forest who have accompanied the tree are taking periodic samples of small twigs from the enormous tannenbaum. The samples are sent to Puyallup where they are carefully weighed, dried thoroughly in an oven, and then reweighed to determine how much moisture was in the twigs.
The data the WSU researchers are gathering is part of their on-going work to make recommendations that can help improve the quality of Christmas trees for consumers. That’s the technical challenge for the tree specialists. For the rest of us, their work is just a way of improving our live tannenbaum tradition, year after year.
Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.

E. Kirsten Peters

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

.

News

Heard over the back fence: Advice offered writers

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

 
Big marijuana find in EDH

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Jury: Sanford guilty of murder

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Initiative seeks roundabout vote

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Sheriff cracking down on Tahoe pot grows

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A3

 
Burn permits required May 1

By Cal Fire | From Page: A7

County backs task force to reduce human trafficking

By Chris Daley | From Page: A13

 
5 years prison for child porn

By News Release | From Page: A14

A victim tells her story

By Chris Daley | From Page: A14

 
.

Opinion

 
Income inequality

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

Billingsley’s Bullets: Marriage makes me laugh

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

What happened to ‘fair and balanced?’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 14 Comments

 
Red tape

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Is Ukraine in Asia, Europe or Latin America?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 20 Comments

 
Vote for Parlin

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

County and ‘Miwoks’ getting together

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Ray Nutting’s donation for DA

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 7 Comments

.

Sports

 
Brown leads Golden Sierra

By Rebecca Reddish | From Page: A9

Cougars 1, Grizzlies 1

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A9

 
Cougars capitalize against Union Mine

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Troy unpends Davis

By Brandon Anicich | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
El Dorado wins tri-meet

By Mike Bush | From Page: A9 | Gallery

D’backs drop the ‘Hammer’

By Mike Bush | From Page: A9

 
El Dorado spikers blank D’backs

By Mike Bush | From Page: A10

Roundup: April 23, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A10

 
On tap

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A10

.

Prospecting

Amazing production brings the curtain down for Pete Miller

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Things to do: April 25, 2014

By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

Cool Beerwerks is very cool

By Krysten Kellum | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Placerville celebrates Earth Day

By News Release | From Page: B3

Handcar Derby to get pumping

By Folsom Handcar Derby | From Page: B3

 
IT presents a Reader’s Theater of ‘Our Town’

By Imagination Theater | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Enjoy spring with Steiner Road wineries

By Steiner Road Wineries | From Page: B4

 
Art and brew are a perfect pair

By News Release | From Page: B5

Spring cleaning is good

Press Release | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

 
Pinewood Derby rolls at Kniesel’s

Press Release | From Page: B6

The Sacramento Music Festival celebrates world-class music

By Sacramento Music Festival | From Page: B12

 
Oak Ridge Boys come to TJ’s Corral

By Carson Valley Inn | From Page: B13

Folsom hosts Spring Antique Fair

By Folsom Historic District Association | From Page: B13

 
Viviana Guzman performs at Petroglyphe Gallery

By Petroglyphe Gallery | From Page: B13

Pioneer Jews of the Gold rush

By Folsom History | From Page: B14, 1 Comment

 
Time to join the El Dorado Community Concert Association

By El Dorado Community Concert Association | From Page: B14

.

Essentials

.

Obituaries

Frances Estelle Gilluly Fraulob

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Dorothy L. Irvin

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Jeanine Rae Henderson-Hodges

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Thomas David Ewing

By Contributor | From Page: A2

John Lawrence Olson

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Jack O’Camb

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wesley M. Nyquist

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

Spring statistics suggest slower sales

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

 
Time to spring outdoors and fix them up

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS7

Nation’s existing home sales remain soft

Press Release | From Page: HS20

 
.

Comics

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A11

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A11

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A11

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A11

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A11

 
Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A11

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A11

 
Horoscope, Friday, April 25, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A12

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A12

 
Horoscope, Sunday, April 27, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A12

Horoscope, Saturday, April 26, 2104

By Contributor | From Page: A12

 
.

Home Source

Spring statistics suggest slower sales

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

Time to spring outdoors and fix them up

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS7

Nation’s existing home sales remain soft

Press Release | From Page: HS20