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Water – key to a healthy live Christmas tree

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight – This lovely decorated live tree is a part of the gift shop on Bass Christmas Tree Farm. 

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight – This lovely decorated live tree is a part of the gift shop on Bass Christmas Tree Farm.

No home would be complete for the Christmas season without a lovely tree gaily decorated befitting the joy of the season. The glittery lights and whimsical decorations bring a sparkle of wonderment to the eyes of our children who stand and gaze with delight at the transformed woodland object that once a year is given a place of honor in our homes. And, who doesn’t like that nostalgic fresh woodsy smell and homey feel of a live Christmas tree?

The Bass Christmas Tree Farm in Columbia, is the closest Christmas Tree producer in our area. His trees stand magnificently decorated in Jeff Davis County homes and surrounding counties. Many of Bass Farm trees are used in the State Capital buildings in Jackson and occasionally the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. The JDC Hospital and ECF Lights of Love have graced a tree donated by Bass Christmas Tree Farm.

Wesley Bass has been raising and selling Christmas trees since 1989 and now has available about a thousand trees each year. It’s a family affair with everyone pitching in during the season including son Adam, daughters Melissa and Kim, daughter-in-law Connie and wife Ginny who mans the gift shop where you can purchase any number of decorations for your fresh tree and gifts from Mississippi artisans.

The first trees are sold Thanksgiving and many families come, select their trees, tag them and come back to have them cut, shook and bailed. Some are set in the Bass’ patented stand all ready for easy setup in the home.

Bass states the average size most consumers want is 7 – 7 ½ ft. trees, but the trend now is going toward 9-10 ft. trees for homes with higher ceilings. Varieties include Cedar, Leyland Cypress, Carolina Sapphire and Virginia Pine with the only variety shipped in is the Fraser Fir that requires elevations higher than 2500 ft. to grow. The trees are sheared differently to suit customer tastes with some tightly sheared, some loosely and some more wildly natural.

His amusement is evident when Bass says the most asked question to him is, “What do you do the rest of the year, like it is a one season job.”

“It’s farming plain and simple, and timing is everything,” states Bass. “The soil has to be tested and prepared with the right nutrients. We try to use organic as much as possible. Each tree has to be planted individually perfectly straight requiring staking at different times. Undergrowth has to be removed constantly and fungicide applied every 21 days March through October and each tree has to be sheared multiple times during the year. Bass Farms is the only producer of the shearing equipment (SAJE) and sells it worldwide. In about four years, depending on how big the tree was when you planted, and Mother Nature’s whims of weather, you should have about a 7-8 ft. tree ready to show well in any home.”

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight – Wesley Bass and friend check out some of the Christmas trees sold and ready to be cut.

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight – Wesley Bass and friend check out some of the Christmas trees sold and ready to be cut.

Bass who has a degree in Agriculture and Agricultural Business and serves as a consultant says it is always a calculated guess as to how many trees to plant but generally he has about a thousand ready for any given year. “It is a long-term investment that only begins to pay off after 4-5 years. It takes a four-letter word-WORK! Many producers get discouraged and quit. In the late 80s there were close to 600 members in the LA/MS Growers Association, but now due to the difficulties of the business there are only 20 per state.

Bass believes everyone would have a live tree if they would just take care of it properly. The dried needles in the carpet thing he says is easy to avoid with a Christmas tree bag and proper care of the tree. The main thing in, he states, in the care of a live tree that will keep it looking fresh until Christmas is water. “Make sure you have a fresh cut and keep it supplied with water. Nothing makes a tree dry out faster than running out of water and then you need to get that fresh cut again. Also, make sure it’s not near a vent or heat source.” Bass compares placing a tree near a vent to you being under a blow dryer for hours at a time.

The Bass Christmas Tree Farm is located at 551 Delancey Robbins Road, Columbia. For more information call 601-736-2231.