Friday, December 14, 2012

Crop a few sizes too small: Future Christmas tree harvest likely grinchy because of drought

At Brad Miller's Christmas Tree Farm in Mindoro, Wis., almost his entire Christmas tree planting of 2,500 this year did not survive the dry, scorching summer. Across Wisconsin, reports Matt Hoffman of the LaCrosse Tribune, nearly 1 million Christmas trees are harvested from more than 1,000 rural farms on an average year. This year, more than 20 percent of the state's growers suffered drought damage, with losing as much as 40 percent of their crop. This means that in six to 10 years, when those trees are set to be harvested, the crop will be small, if at all, for those farmers. The outlook nationwide is not much different.

In Michigan, the $40 million annual crop is also at risk,  reports the Great Lakes Echo of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University. Christmas trees, traditionally grown in poor soil, have always been at the mercy of weather -- of all kinds. Wisconsin's Miller explained that even those few trees that survived the summer are at risk. A deep frost isolates a sapling's roots from moisture, he said, explaining he hopes a large snow pack will insulate the ground from extreme temperatures. However, Miller said, even if an early spring arrives, “We’ll probably lose more over the winter.” (Read more)

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