The College of Forestry George W. Peavy Forest Science Center on the Oregon State University Corvallis campus has a towering Nordmann fir Christmas tree thanks to a generous donation and the work of many hands. Donated by Westwinds Farm in Dallas, the tree celebrates a 60-plus year collaboration between OSU Extension and local Christmas tree growers. It also honors Chal Landgren, who is retiring as the OSU Extension Christmas tree specialist. A couple of forestry students took a break from studying to help get the 30-foot tree into the building and raised. Benny the Beaver, the OSU mascot, also lent a hand getting the tree into its final position in the lobby!
The history of this tree starts in 1965 when Drew Michaels, a West Salem tree farmer, acquired seed from trees native to western Asia’s Caucasus Mountains. He found that this variety, now known as Nordmann fir, thrived in the hot, dry summer climate of the Willamette Valley. The descendant of Drew’s Nordmann plantation, along with other trees in the Westwinds Farm seed orchard, is part of an ongoing research project with Oregon State University. Together they are working to improve needle quality and retention and to enhance growth, with the goal of giving Willamette Valley farmers the tools to grow the best trees possible.
The OSU Christmas tree program is based at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Clackamas county, the heart of Christmas tree production in Oregon.