Maine Wreaths Info
Maine is the largest producer of balsam wreaths in the United States, producing millions of wreaths each and every year with the most coming from Washington County. The majority of Maine wreaths are made with balsam fir which comes from balsam fir trees called Abies balsama which is native to New England and only grows in the colder parts of the region and into the Canadian Maritimes. Balsam fir is the most fragrant of all the firs and is the smell generally associated with Christmas.
Balsam wreaths are made by using the end portion(also known as tips) of the balsam fir branches. Tip lengths generally are 12 to 20″ long. Depending on the size sometimes tips are broken down in to 2-3 pieces. The tips are then put together in bunches and wired onto a ring to make the balsam wreath.A single-faced wreath means that the bunches of balsam fir are attached to only one side of the wreath ring. A double-faced Maine wreath has the bunches of balsam fir are built around both sides of the wreath. The double faced Maine wreaths are much fuller and much more desirable, that is why hear at Family Tradition Wreath Company we only make double faced Maine wreaths.
Tips can be gathered only during late fall, after needles are set. At this time, the balsam fir tree stops growing and stays dormant until spring. The needles pores are sealed by a waxy coating that covers the needles surface. If tipping occurs before setting, the wreaths will be brown sticks before Christmas.
The exact time of setting varies, depending on the particular areas climate and the growing year. Experienced tip pickers may know when tips can be gathered in your area. The approximate time to begin harvesting tips varies across the state. However, the Maine Christmas Tree Associations standards indicate that balsam fir brush should be collected after November 1 and a minimum of three consecutive 20-degree-F (or colder) nights. The tipping season usually lasts until mid-December, but there must be enough time for making and shipping Maine wreaths before the holiday season.
Only part of each branch is harvested so that the branch can produce another tip for a future harvest. Its best to cut no more than half the foliage in a single year so that the tree can remain vigorous. For maximum tip production harvesting should be done every three years. Cutting from a tree every year will tap the vigor of the tree and eventually kill it. Our balsam tips are harvested in a sustainable manner.