Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - Once a Christmas conifer is cut, the end result is a stripped stump that usually can't be regrown, unless you're practicing stump culture.
Like a gift nestled beneath layers upon layers of wrappers, Balsam and Fraser firs can be seen sprouting from beneath bushy branches back into the sunlight on a tree farm in Chippewa Falls.
Since 1984, Joe Cook, the owner of Traditional Tree Farms, has grown 50,000 conifers. Cook said he's been grooming the bottom branches of where Christmas conifers once stood, a unique growing practice called, stump culture. "We always keep a couple there to get a good lead so that it gets enough sunlight for energy,” he said. “Stump culturing is just the practice of where you've cut off a tree before, raising another tree from the same stump as long as there's a green branch there."
The process reuses stumps as a breeding bed for trees to re-grow, allowing them to feed on a system already rooted in place. “They have a huge root base to draw moisture and nutrients from,” Cook said. “They grow a Christmas tree faster than planting another seedling."
Cook said stump culturing can be a better alternative to reseeding, a faster form to flourish a tree's height, but it can also be a labor of love to keep the trees trimmed to a T. He also said there are customers who have purchased trees numerous times that have grown from the same stump. "They took a tree off of there last year. That was the third tree off of that spot."
Cook said stump culturing can be labor intensive. “You have to work on a tree like this a few couple years before you start getting a nice symmetrical tree like that one,” he said. “We probably can get a tree like this to market in six years versus eight or nine on a Balsam."
Traditional Tree Farm will open to the public the day after Thanksgiving. Cook said while they do not require customers to cut a tree a certain way, they would like people to leave a bottom branch uncut in order for stump culturing to happen the following season.