When the Yuletide Season rolls around, many Georgia families visit a local Christmas tree farm to choose and cut their very own trees to celebrate the Holiday Season. The most common choices of you-choose and you-cut trees in Georgia are the Virginia pine, Leyland cypress, and American cypress. Fraser firs are an all-time favorite Christmas tree, but Georgia growers cannot grow them and must purchase Frasers from North Carolina to sell to their customers. Dr. Mark Czarnota, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is working with the Momi fir as a possible alternative to the Fraser fir for landscapes and for Georgia Christmas tree growers.
The Momi fir, introduced from Japan in the 1990s, tolerates Georgia’s mild winters and is not susceptible to the phytophthora root rot that plagues Fraser fir in Georgia. Czarnota is exploring the use of Momi fir as a Christmas tree in two projects in the Garden. In one, he is grafting Fraser fir shoots onto Momi fir rootstock to avoid the phytophthora disease problem. In other studies, he is developing management practices and selecting for traits for growing Momi fir as a Christmas tree in Georgia.