August 1, 2014

Sending home-grown Christmas trees overseas

Sending a Christmas tree overseas? Start the paperwork now.

If you’d like to send a real Wisconsin Christmas tree to someone overseas, you’ll need time to get a phytosanitary certificate. “It serves as proof to the nation that the tree is being sent to that it’s not carrying diseases, insects, anything that could infect plants in the country that it’s going to.”

Donna Gilson with the state Agriculture Department says in order to get a phyto, the tree must come from a licensed Christmas tree grower. Make sure you ask for a copy of the plant health certificate when you purchase the tree and then send it to DATCP. (Request a phyto certificate: 608-224-4596 or greg.helmbrecht@wi.gov.)

Gilson says most people might not even be aware that sending a live tree overseas is an option. “It never occurred to them that they could send a Christmas tree overseas, and think what a thrill it would be for someone sitting in the middle of the desert somewhere and far from home at Christmas time to get this Christmas tree and have it to decorate and share with other people; it kind of adds to the festivities.”

It’s not unusual for growers to ship trees overseas wholesale to be sold there at retail prices, but Gilson says individuals might not know they, too, can send a tree overseas. In fact, she says, last year was the first year they became aware of anyone — about five or six individuals — sending trees overseas to their loved ones serving in the military.

Gilson says DATCP will waive its portion of the $50 fee for individuals or families sending trees to their active military duty family members overseas. That will reduce the fee to just $6, which goes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Badger State is among the nation’s largest Christmas tree growers. The Ag Department has a list of over 400 growers on its website.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:16