Wednesday, December 13, 2017

From EMPIRE FARM & DAIRY magazine

Magenta tree at Henderberg Tree farm
Christmas trees are green.

Everyone knows that.

But what about magenta? Or blue. Or purple. Or turquoise. Or even red?

Two Christmas tree farms in Central New York — one near Canastota in Madison County and one between Verona and Rome in Oneida County — are selling colored Christmas trees this season. 

Farmers are offering trees in red, turquoise, pink, magenta, white, light blue and purple.

“It’s just something new I’m trying out this year,” said Jay Henderberg, owner/operator of Henderberg’s Tree Farm off Route 365 south of Rome. “The response we’re getting is overwhelming.”

The same is true at Romagnoli Christmas Tree Farm on Oneida Valley Road outside Canastota.

“We did a red, a white and a blue tree for a patriotic theme,” said Dewey Romagnoli. “We also have some purple and pink. I’m just experimenting with it to see how it goes.”

Henderberg opened his farm for people to come and tag colored trees for purchase. They were sold out that day.

The trees are real Christmas trees grown with care and love by the Christmas tree farmers.

Then they are colored with a food-grade colorant purchased from a company based in Wisconsin called Kirk, which makes the product in red, green, blue, white, orange, magenta, pink and light blue.

“I colored about 20 trees,” Romagnoli said. “But I saw an article about this guy in New Jersey who painted 150-200 trees and sold them all out.”

Faye Beckwith, past president of the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York, said she and her husband Jack, who run Beckwith’s Christmas Tree Farm in Hannibal, Oswego County, said they also bought some colorant and used it to make a purple tree for a Hannibal school function. 

Hannibal’s colors are purple, gold and white.

Both Henderberg and Romagnoli found out about the colorant at a recent meeting of the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York. A representative from Kirk Co. was there with the colorant and the two farmers decided to give it a whirl.

This is the second year the colorant has been sold for Christmas trees.

Here’s how it works:

The farmer sprays the colorant onto the trees. It has to be 40 degrees or warmer for the mixture to adhere well.

Once it dries, within a few hours to a day or so, it is permanent. It doesn’t wash off or come off on your hands or clothes.

It is not toxic, so if Spot or Puff or even your toddler decide to take a bite out of the tree, it will not hurt them.

It is not paint, so it contains no metals or mercury. It is environmentally safe.

Any species of tree can be colored.

The farmer has to put up a good amount of money to do the colored trees, buying not only the colorant, but also the equipment for spraying it onto the trees.

And because of the monetary investment, farmers are charging about $30 more for the colored trees, Henderberg said. He has colored 20 of his trees — Fraser firs, Canaan firs and white spruce.
“It’s new, so you don’t know how it’s going to be received,” Henderberg said.

Obviously it was well received this year, since Henderberg has sold out of his colored trees.

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