Finding Smart Solutions

When he realized one of Atlantic Canada’s most important agricultural industries needed help, Dr. Raj Lada decided to make future-proofing Christmas trees a personal challenge.

Raj started his balsam fir research in 2005, with a small experiment to address the problem of dropping needles. By 2011, the National Christmas Tree Research Centre had been created — the only one in the world. Now, the Centre has licensed three products that promise to revolutionize Atlantic Canada’s tree and greenery industry.

The first commercial results include a “SMART Balsam,” which boasts a full, sturdy architecture, unique fragrance, blue-green needles, and the ability to retain its needles for up to three months, if properly handled.

Three months — that kind of needle retention will allow trees to be shipped farther and more reliably, giving Nova Scotia Christmas trees an edge over the competition. It also gives real trees a fighting chance against the increasingly popular artificial lookalikes.

The technology is being licensed to members of the SMART Christmas Tree Research Cooperative and seedlings should be available for planting this spring. In the meantime, Raj and his team are developing two additional pending technologies including a delaying agent or spray and a protocol for post-harvest storage and transport.

Raj’s dedication to looking for solutions that go beyond the lab is helping to strengthen our local industry. It’s an example of how Dal researchers are helping to find answers to issues here at home and around the world.

Shaped by Strategy

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Explore Dalhousie University’s Strategic Direction – our blueprint for creating a lasting impact.

Turning 200

When professor Abraham Gesner distilled kerosene from coal and oil shale in 1846, he inspired the modern petroleum industry and brought clear, bright light to homes around the world.


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