ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) – Picking out a Christmas tree? Cornell University scientists have some tips.

Plant pathologist Brian Eshenaur says beware of yellowing needles or a slight brown speckled color. That could mean there was a pest problem and could result in needles dropping early.

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Don’t be afraid to bend the branches and shoots. Shoots should be flexible, so avoid a tree if the needles fall off or if the shoots crack when handled.

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And make sure the tree smells good. Eshenaur says if there isn’t much fragrance when you flex the needles, it could mean that the tree was cut too long ago.

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