Christmas tree farms may face lasting effects from the summer's drought
MDN Menu
MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News

Christmas tree farms may face lasting effects from the summer's drought

Date: December 10, 2012
By: Christine Roto
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: 
Most Christmas tree farms are not feeling the heat from the summer's severe drought, however some farms are not going to survive.
RunTime:  3:08
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: The holidays might not seem as delightful without a tree to decorate.

Some Christmas tree farms have suffered dramatically from the drought, while other farms may have to wait a few years to feel the heat.

Jack Bridges owns Pine Flats Chrismas Tree Farm in Diamond, Missouri.

On July 21, a fire started from the dryness of the drought and burned 550 acres of his farm.

Actuality:  BRIDGE1.WAV
Run Time:  00:20
Description: "I sold 2200 trees each year religiously. And marketable, and I'm being fair about it, there's thousands out here, but I'm going to say there's 400 marketable trees. So there's 8,000 of income amount. And I'm going to have to spend another 6 grand or so to get that mess cleaned up."

Bridges says when the fire started, there was a fire-ban in the town of 900. However, the ban was disregarded and a neighbor was burning garbage, when the wind picked up and started the large fire.

Other farms, however, were not hit as hard this year.

A spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association Rick Dungey, says he has not seen any Christmas tree sales hurt this year, however private businesses could be hurting from the drought.

Ann Harmon has owned her Christmas tree farm, Starr Pines, for 27 years.

She says the majority of her tree farm is Scotch Pine trees, which are very hardy and were able to survive the drought.

Actuality:  HARMON1.WAV
Run Time:  00:09
Description: "It's kind of some of the other species we grow such as the fur trees that aren't as drought tolerant."

Harmon says the farm lost a lot of seedlings, but they will plant twice as much in the spring.

She says she wants Christmas tree buyers to be sure to give their trees an extra amout of water this year.

Mary Rood owns Pea Ridge Farm in Hermann, Missouri.

She says her farm has not seen any difference in sales but she may have to play catch up with the trees they lost.

She says the saleable trees were not hurt too much, but the biggest problem arose with their young trees.

Actuality:  ROOD1.WAV
Run Time:  00:06
Description: "We lost probably 5 or 6 thousand trees a week. Seedlings, you know, so we replant them."

She says when they saw the problem with the young trees, they set up drip lines.

This system of irrigation drips water slowly throughout a line of trees.

She says the drought could have an effect in the future growth, but it has not had a negative effect this year.

Dungey, of the National Christmas Tree Association, says the trees harvested this year are not effected by the drought.

These trees still go into a state of dormancy every year, regardless of how much rain there has been.

Dungey says it is also difficult to predict how much the tree harvests will be effected in a certain year.

Actuality:  PR1.WAV
Run Time:  00:08
Description: "Lot's of things can happen to effect the growth rates of trees between now and when they would have been harvested. And they wouldn't have all been harvested in the same year anyway."

Rood of Pea Ridge Farm says the next few years will be important in the future of the seedlings they lost.

 

Actuality:  ROOD2.WAV
Run Time:  00:11
Description: "Hopefully, we'll have a good next couple years, otherwise you know you try to play catch up. Well we'll plant more trees to fill up the holes where we lost a bunch of trees."

The sources agree the next fews years could continue to show the effects of the summer's severe drought.

Reporting from the Capitol, I'm Christine Roto.

 


Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.