While Christmas tree farmers are seeing many of their seedlings dry up under drought conditions – the outlook for Christmas trees at the end of this year is still considered good.
Rick Dungey, public relations manager for the National Christmas Tree Association in Chesterfield, Missouri, says Christmas trees are protected by not being an annual crop that’s planted and harvested in the same year. Dungey tells Brownfield, “Yeah, severe conditions can impact new plantings, new seedlings, the little baby trees that farmer have put in the ground earlier this year. A lot of those have been higher than normal mortality rates in a lot of places around the country but even those weren’t going to be harvested at the same time.”
Christmas trees are harvested between four and 14 years of age – at different stages. Dungey says, “Trees that have made it to five, six, seven, eight foot tall or even taller, those trees have a well-established root system. So, the tree itself is better able to withstand seasonal weather extremes.”
Dungey says Christmas tree farmers will have to replace the ones they lost but consumers won’t lose out. Dungey says, “The bottom line is, when we’re ready for harvest, the trees that are harvested and sent to market nobody will never know that they had a tough season. So, consumers shouldn’t worry. They’ll still be able to get a very high quality tree this year.”
While the drought can slow the growth of Christmas trees and cause some stress, he says, it’s not likely to put growers out of business. Christmas tree growers, he adds, can buy crop insurance.