…Wouldn’t it be lovely if those [Christmas tree] needles would just stay on the tree? …Dr. Raj Lada, a plant stress and eco-physiologist in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture, established the first national Christmas Tree Research Centre (CRC) on the campus. At the centre they’ve been developing a SMART (senescence modulated abscission regulated technology) balsam fir that would retain needles for up to three months, and what they’ve done is now being offered to the Christmas tree industry. Christmas tree growing and exporting is a $100 million industry in Atlantic Canada, but it faces competition from artificial trees, which can last for many years. …“I’m a long time fan of live trees,” Lada said. “It’s not just about trees, but about people and lifestyle. I connect with people and their families, so it’s personal too me.