Friday, January 30, 2015
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

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

By
December 11, 2013 |

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.

Comments

Subscription Required

Thank you for reading the MtDemocrat.com digital edition. In order to continue reading this story please choose one of the following options.

Current Subscribers
If you are a current subscriber and wish to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com, please select the Subscriber Verification option below. If you already have a login, please select "Login" at the lower right corner of this box.

Subscriber Verification

Special Introductory Offer
For a short time we will be offering a discount to those who call us in order to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your print subscription. Our customer support team will be standing by Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm to assist you.

Call and Save! (530) 344-5000

If you are not a current subscriber and wish not to take advantage of our special introductory offer, please select the $12 monthly option below to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your online subscription

Help?

E. Kirsten Peters

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    News

    Limited Prop. 90 extension approved

    By Chris Daley | From Page: A1

     
    Placerville PD testing out body cams

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

    Clay Street bridge plan reactivated

    By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    American River Inn: Duo maintain Georgetown landmark

    By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Mustang strikes tree on Latrobe Road

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3

    Multi-car collision causes major injury

    By Cole Mayer | From Page: A3

     
    Awards for innovative EID workers

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A3

    DUI patrols set for Super Bowl Sunday

    By El Dorado County District Attorney's Office | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Opinion

    Salmon on Cosumnes?

    By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A6

     
    The weekly Daley: I’m not a scientist, but…

    By Chris Daley | From Page: A6

    Billingsley’s Bullets: Want to create ageless joy?

    By Bob Billingsley | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Letters

    When is a fee not a fee?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

     
    I hope his friends read Altshuler’s column

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

    Placerville Main Street Rehabilitation Project

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Sports

    South 1 season gets underway

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11

     
    El Dorado sets up Sr. Night showdown

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Cougars edge Union Mine

    By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    El Dorado races past D’backs

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Roundup: Jan. 28, 2015

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11

     
    Alpine Race results

    By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11

    Bruins pin down Roseville

    By Mike Bush | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Prospecting

    IT takes two in ‘Red, White and Tuna’

    By Pat Lakey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Things to do: Jan. 30, 2015

    By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

    Discover Ecstatic Dance in Placerville

    By News Release | From Page: B2

     
    Guitar heroes play at Harris Center

    By Carrera Productions | From Page: B2

    Pink Floyd tribute at Sutter Creek Theatre

    By Sutter Creek | From Page: B3

     
    Guess Who is at MontBleu

    By Montbleu | From Page: B3

    Feist Wines presents Willie Watson in concert

    By Feist Wines | From Page: B7

     
    Visual artistry dazzles the audience

    By Harris Center for the Arts | From Page: B8

    Super time at Carson Valley Inn

    By Carson Valley Inn | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Essentials

    Lake levels 1-29-15

    By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Donald Benjamin Deal

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

     
    Janet Louise (Percy) Ostlund

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

    William Charles “Chuck” Terry funeral notice

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

     
    Jerald Warren Bennett

    By Contributor | From Page: A2

    .

    Real Estate

    The curse of a quick offer

    By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

     
    .

    Comics

    Sudoku

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    TV Listings

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

    Rubes

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    Long Story Short

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

    Speed Bump

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    Tundra

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

    Shoe

    By Contributor | From Page: A13

     
    New York Times Crossword

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

    Horoscope, Sunday, February 1, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

     
    Horoscope, Saturday, January 31, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

    Horoscope, Friday, January 30, 2015

    By Contributor | From Page: A14

     
    .

    Home Source

    The curse of a quick offer

    By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4