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.

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.

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.