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Plum Assignment: Inspecting Oregon Christmas Trees In Hawaii

Oregon is the nation's leading Christmas tree producer.
Oregon Department of Agriculture
Oregon is the nation's leading Christmas tree producer.

A trio of Oregon entomologists has a plum assignment this holiday season. They're heading to Hawaii to help spot pests trying to hitch a ride to paradise on the branches of Oregon-grown Christmas trees.

Oregon grows more Christmas trees than any other state. Some 200,000 of the evergreens are put on cargo ships bound for Honolulu. And while Oregon growers try to head off problems at the source, the trees also undergo a rigorous examination when they come off the boat.

Gary McAninch, supervisor of the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Christmas tree program for , says inspectors aim to protect Hawaii from invasive species.

"They'll pull those trees out and typically they bang them onto a sheet and they'll collect anything that falls out of the trees and they'll look for any type of organism they don't want to have in Hawaii," McAninch explains.

Slugs are the most common uninvited ornament.

McAninch says the Oregon Department of Agriculture will work on the docks alongside state of Hawaii inspectors during the peak shipping season in mid-November. Washington growers also ship to Hawaii but that state has no plans to send its own inspectors there.

On the Web:

Christmas tree/ Holiday wreath shipping regulations - Oregon Department of Agriculture 

Copyright 2013 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.