AAFES readies 1,100 Christmas trees for sale in Japan, Okinawa
November 28, 2008
Unpack the ornaments and untangle the lights. Christmas trees are coming to Pacific military bases.
If all goes well with the agricultural inspections, trees should be available Friday on mainland Japan and South Korea bases, and are expected to go on sale Saturday on Okinawa.
And don’t wait until the last minute.
Or you’ll be sorry you did, said Air Force Master Sgt. Donovan Potter, spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which sells the trees.
"The trees always sell fast and are usually gone within the first week," Potter said.
This year, AAFES bought more than 1,100 trees for Okinawa and mainland Japan bases — more than 100 more than last year, Potter said.
The trees — Douglas fir and noble fir — shipped earlier this month from Yule Tree Farms in Marion County, Ore.
Tree size varies from 4- to 8-feet tall, and prices range from $20 to $53.
Much goes into prepping the trees for their oceanic trip, said Tom McNabb, a spokesman for Yule Tree Farms.
Inspectors spend the year combing through the farm’s 3,800 acres using magnifying glasses to look for insects that can damage trees, he said. Then trees go through several pest inspections before they are shipped to Pacific bases.
"There are good bugs and bad bugs, and pesticide use can’t discriminate between the two, so we look for both," McNabb said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
Selected trees are put through a shaking machine to remove debris and loose needles, then moistened and placed into refrigerated shipping containers to maintain freshness, McNabb said.
Trees undergo another bug inspection once they arrive at AAFES distribution centers, Potter said.
Twice in years past, AAFES has had to destroy shipments of Christmas trees to Japan that had arrived infested with harmful insects.
In 2003, shoppers were stuck with buying artificial trees after the strawberry root weevil, a small insect, was found in a shipment of 1,000 live trees. A similar infestation occurred in 1995.
But there is something unique about a live Christmas tree.
"People tell us that it makes them feel more at home when they are able to have the smell and feel of a live tree in their house," Potter said.
Where to get your treeCamp Foster The Exchange will sell 4- to 7-foot noble firs for $20 to $53 and 5- to 8-foot Douglas firs for $26 to $42 during special hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Call DSN 645-6140.
Kadena Air BaseThe Exchange will sell 4- to 7-foot noble firs for $20 to $53 and 5- to 8-foot Douglas firs for $26 to $42 during special hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Call DSN 633-4571 or -4570.
Source: Army and Air Force Exchange Service