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What you need to know before picking out a Christmas tree

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COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - It's December and thousands will be packing the lots with hopes of picking the perfect tree.

The price tag on those trees might be looking steep this year.

According to Verlyn Aerni -- farmer of the Aerni Family Christmas Trees -- the recession in 2008 is taking a toll on small farmers, nearly 10 years later, just about the of time it takes to grow a tree.

"The Christmas tree farmers in our area got hurt so bad. It was oversupply, and so they took such a beating that people just quit planting them," Aerni said.

He expects production and prices to be back to normal in about five to six years. 

When it comes to loading it up, experts advise using a car with a roof rack.

Place the base of your tree toward the front end of the car, using quality tiedowns, and always give the tree a few strong tugs to make sure it's in place. No rack, no problem. Place the tree inside.

If you shop at Aerni's, they have a guarantee: "We have a policy on our lot, if a tree sticks out 2 or 3 feet on one side, if they get a ticket, we'll pay for it."

Before bringing your tree inside the house, here's how to make sure you don't invite 25,000 bugs that may be living inside your tree.

  • Examine tree branches and trunks and for spiders
  • Shake out the tree 
  • Let the tree sit inside your garage for 24 hours before decorating

Once the tree is up and shining, Cathedral City Battalion Chief John Muhr is reminding people to take precaution.

"One in 34 Christmas tree fires result in a fire fatality. When you compare that to a regular residential fire, it's about one in every 143. If we can mitigate issues, like keeping it watered or keeping your tree away from heating sources is really important," Muhr said.

 Muhr also said candle fires are firefighters' most common call to respond to, with their busiest days being Christmas Eve and Day and New Year's Eve and Day.

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