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‘O Christmas Tree’

Hilmar known for best cedar in the state

‘O Christmas Tree’

The Hilmar Forest won the Best of Cedar award in the California Christmas Tree Association's Annual Christmas tree contest. This is the second year they have won Best of Cedar.

POSTED November 27, 2009 11:53 p.m.
Prior to the big man’s arrival — jolly old St. Nicholas, of course — the spirit of the holiday is celebrated around the Christmas tree with decorations and lights galore awaiting the presents soon to be delivered. So picking out the perfect Christmas tree can be quite an important task.
This year the best cedar Christmas tree in California was found not too far from Turlock, only six miles away at the Minturn Christmas Tree Farm, a part of the Hilmar Forest, where a variety of Christmas trees are grown.
“One of our specialty Christmas trees in Hilmar is our cedar tree,” said Janet Minturn, one of the owners of the Minturn Christmas Tree Farm.  
Janet, along with Sam Minturn, have grown Christmas trees for the past 40 years, entering in their winning cedar Christmas tree about three to four times since they started, Janet said. This is the second time they have won the Best of Cedar award — they won their first award in 2002.
Christmas tree farms from all over the state entered the Christmas Tree Association’s Annual Christmas Tree Contest in hopes of winning the bragging rights of having one of the best Christmas trees in California.
Janet’s competitors were few this year in the cedar category, but they won their bragging rights along with a nice plaque to hang up in their office, she said.
“Cedars are not really popular compared to the fir’s so there isn’t a lot of competition, but cedars are mainly grown in the Valley,” Janet said.  
During the competition, members of the California Christmas Tree Association vote on their favorite tree, she said. They look at the shape, the color and the freshness. No trees can be over six feet tall.
“They vote for whatever they think would make the prettiest Christmas tree,” Janet said. “Each person has their own idea of a perfect tree.”  
To maintain a good shape on their trees, Janet focuses on keeping the trees as natural as possible, she said. Most people prune their trees more than they do at the Minturn Christmas Tree Farm.
Growing the perfect Christmas tree begins with Janet purchasing one-year old seedlings from a nursery, she said. The cedar is very low maintenance so the only thing they need to do is plant them, flood irrigate the trees and control the weeds around the plant. It takes about four years for the Christmas tree to fully grow.  
To purchase one of the Best Cedar Christmas Trees in California, visit the Minturn Christmas Tree Farm now until Dec. 23. Their hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Christmas trees from six feet tall to 10 feet tall run around $30 per tree, Janet said. They have all kinds of trees, including Monterey pines, incense cedars, Sierra redwoods, Leyland cypress, Douglas fir, Nordmann and silvertip firs.
With the down economy, Janet isn’t sure what to expect but she is hoping for the best, she said.
“We hope people will celebrate Christmas even in bad times,” Janet said.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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