OGLE COUNTY — Grade school students throughout Ogle and Carroll counties learned about Christmas tree farms. There were 62 programs presented to 1,275 students during the month of December.
The Ag in the Classroom program teaches students that many items we use every day originate from crops grown by farmers. Some crops we eat. Others are used to make our homes beautiful. Many are used to make clothes and other helpful items. Moreover, some crops help us celebrate.
Trees, like corn, are grown on farms. Tree growers do many of the same things other farmers do. However, a tree crop is different because it takes 7 to 10 years before a tree can be harvested. In addition, a tree farmer must plant three new seedlings for every tree that they harvest because seedlings have many enemies including insects and disease, rabbits, and deer.
Like other crops, trees must be fertilized and weeded. The farmer also prunes the trees to control how fast they grow and shapes them so when they are sold; they have a shape people will like.
Harvest time is very busy for growers. The trees that will be cut must be selected and tagged. Once the trees are cut, they are baled tightly so that the branches will not be damaged as they are shipped to tree lots to be sold.
Because trees stay in the fields for so long, they have 4 to 10 years to be a habitat for small animals and insects. They also make oxygen for all living things. Therefore, the next time you think of products grown on a farm, add Christmas trees to your list.
A special thank you to Dollinger Christmas Tree Farm, Lanark, for the many tree samples they provide each year. These samples provide an opportunity for students to compare the various kinds of Christmas trees.
Agriculture in the Classroom is a program to help students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society. Students learn that thousands of farm products are in the world around them—on their plate, in the clothes they wear, in the medicine that makes them well, and in earth-friendly fuels and plastics.
Ag in the Classroom is offered through the University of Illinois Extension in partnership with Ogle County Farm Bureau, Carroll County Farm Bureau, Ogle County Soil & Water, and Carroll County Soil & Water. For more information about the program, call the Ogle County Extension Office at 815-732-2191 or visit the Extension website at web.illlinois.edu/bdo.