Missouri Christmas Tree Producers Association boosts tree industry and holiday spirit

With the holiday season approaching, many of our thoughts turn to decorating, food and family. For members of the Missouri Christmas Tree Producers Association (MCPTA), thoughts turn to preparing for harvest and hopefully, a rush of happy customers. The MCPTA is a non-profit organization of Christmas tree growers and technical people dedicated to the promotion of the interest of the Christmas tree growing industry in Missouri. According to the latest United States Census of Agriculture showing the number of Christmas tree farms in Missouri to be 105 in 2012.  According to the National Christmas Tree Association, those 105 Missouri Christmas tree farms in 2012 had sales of $1,146,000 for 32,810 trees on 1,324 acres which ranks Missouri 16th in the nation for total sales.  According to a National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) poll, consumers bought more than 33.02 million real trees in 2013.  Of the real trees purchased, NCTA said 85 percent were pre-cut and 14 percent came from cut-your-own farms with 1 percent not offering an answer in the poll.

To keep a real Christmas tree fresh as long as possible, it's important to buy the freshest one available.  As soon as you get the tree home, cut a half-inch to an inch from its base and put it immediately in a bucket of fresh water.  Other tips on keeping your Christmas tree:

  • To keep it fresh in your home, don't place it near heat sources and make sure to keep the stand full of water.
  • Use only the lights designated for indoor use on your tree and turn the lights off when you can't keep an eye on them.
  • Once you have taken all the necessary precautions, sit back and bask in the glow of your Christmas tree

For a list of cut your own Christmas trees in the area, contact the UM Extension Office at 573-346-2644 or by email at camdenco@missouri.edu.

Candidates sought to serve on Extension Council

The Camden County University of Missouri Extension Council is now accepting nominations from members of the public interested in serving on the Council beginning in March 2016.  Council members assist in identifying, planning and marketing extension programs in the county, providing local extension governance and serving as ambassadors of University of Missouri Extension.

Every county in Missouri has an Extension Council made up of elected and appointed members who represent the broad educational needs and backgrounds of people in the county.  Council candidates must be at least 18 years old and reside in the district they represent.  Council members are elected to serve a two year term on the Extension Council.

The Camden County Extension Council will have positions open in —

  • District 1 (Horseshoe Bend, Osage Beach, Linn Creek, Camdenton, Sunrise Beach),
  • District 2 (Climax Springs, Greenview, Macks Creek, Roach) and
  • District 3 (Freedom, Hill House, Montreal, Stoutland and Toronto).

The upcoming 2016 public election will occur during the third week of January.

If you are interested in serving on the University of Missouri Extension Council, or to secure additional information about the election process, please contact the Camden County Extension Center, phone 573-346-2644 or email camdenco@missouri.edu.  Nominations are due by Dec. 4, 2015.

Take control of your finances

Free workshops to help you keep control of family finances while you are laid off are available at Missouri Career Centers statewide.  Managing and budgeting your bills and your money until a new job opportunity appears is less stressful when you have a plan. The workshop is taught by Dr. Rebecca Travnichek, family financial education specialist with UM Extension Camden County.

Topics include:

  • How to track your spending and how to develop a budget
  • How to cut expenses
  • HOPE NOW mortgage services that can help you keep ownership of your home
  • How to prioritize debts and how to maintain good relations with creditors
  • Understanding health insurance coverage options
  • How to avoid debt and credit scams that target unemployed victims
  • How to identify resources in your community that can help you save money

Learning more about these topics will help relieve financial strain on you and your family while you are unemployed or underemployed.

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Linn Creek Career Center, 204 Business Park Road, Linn Creek. Each workshop requires at least 5 individuals be pre-registered by 4:30 p.m. on December 7, 2015.  For more information or to register, call 573-346-1766.

Missouri Master Gardener training

Master Gardener training classes will begin with an orientation on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 at the Laclede County Extension Center, 186-D North Adam Avenue, Lebanon, MO.  Eleven professionally taught sessions will be held. Training Sessions will be held on Thursday evenings starting Jan. 14, 2016 through March 17, 2016 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Graduation/certification will be held on March 24, 2016. Training fee is $175 for single person or $250 for a couple.  Training fee covers the following:  Grounds for Gardening resource book, Master Gardener certification, name tag, and travel and instruction expenses for class educators.

Any class you are interested in may be taken as a stand alone class at a fee of $15 a night.  You do not have to go through the Master Gardeners program to enroll and enjoy these course offerings.   Course content is given in the brochure below.  

Registration and partial/full payment must be received prior to Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015.  For more information or to register contact the Laclede County Extension Center, lacledeco@missouri.edu or call 417-532-7126.  

Master Gardener Training brochure (PDF)

Soil testing

Don't guess.  Soil tests save time and money.  Soil testing is the best guide to the wise and efficient use of fertilizer and soil amendments, said Manjula Nathan, director of the University of Missouri Extension Soil Testing and Plant Diagnostic Services.  Whether you grow acres of row crops or have a vegetable patch in the backyard, a soil test will provide you with an analysis of nutrients and a set of recommendations for any improvements.

"We frequently get questions from customers like, 'I apply fertilizer every year. How come my plants are not doing well?" Nathan said.

"Most of the time the problem is they never have done a soil test, but have been guessing on fertilizer requirements," she said. "They do not realize that by guessing they are wasting money by over- or under application, and the excess fertilizer can end up in streams, ponds and underground water, polluting the environment."

Soil testing provides analysis of pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, organic matter percent, neutralizable acidity, cation exchange capacity and nutrient requirements.  For information on test results, see MU publication G9112, Interpreting Missouri Soil Test Reports. Regional specialists also can assist you with additional information and recommendations. Soil testing can be done through the extension office. See Services for details.

Soil testing brochure (PDF)