State inspects Christmas trees to prevent spread of invasives

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"We had a little dry spell in the middle of summer, but made it through that," says Dean Lemke of Central Wisconsin Evergreens.

He's expecting a Christmas tree harvest that's about the same, maybe a little better than 2017. Lemke keeps a close eye on this 1000 acres all through the growing season.

On this day he's joined by Jennifer Oestreich from the State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The agency is in the process of inspecting trees in all 700-fields throughout the state.

"This year the trees look absolutely fantastic," she says.

And they want to keep it that way for many years to come. Those greens that make our homes so cozy during the holidays, can also spread Grinch-like invasives like gypsy moths.

So, between early September and early November, all the trees are looked over from head to toe, or tree top to trunk.

If a federally regulated invasive like the gypsy moth is found, no trees grown withing 100-feet of it can be cut and shipped. The state then works with the grower to improve the crop for next year.

"We do this to help offer the management recommendations to stay up to speed with the conditions of the crops in Wisconsin," Oestreich says.

But on this day on this farm, all looks good. In fact you could almost say, how lovely are thy branches.