WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News

Despite drought, expect great selection of Christmas trees this year

This year's drought hit many farmers hard, but what about those who specialize in Christmas trees? You may have seen Christmas tree lots already popping up around town. So will the drought impact your selection?

Well the drought tried.. But it failed. Northern Christmas Trees in Jackson County is the state's largest Christmas tree producer. I was there back in July during the heart of the drought.

Since then when it comes to their trees...there's been more good news than bad. Drought was a problem I remember when I was a kid in the 80s but this is probably been the worst year weather-wise in a while." Ashley Ahl and her family run the tree farm. It's been around since the 50s.

"In my opinion real trees are the only way to go," says Ahl. In the next couple days they'll wrap up shipping out 150,000 trees throughout the Midwest. "Yeah we were slammed last week."

They also got slammed by the drought this year. The drought killed 130,000 trees that were planted this past spring.

"The 2011 and 2010 plantings did take a beating to as a result of the drought." Jason Jacobs is the Christmas tree foreman and says they've already purchased new seedlings to recoup their losses.

"We’ll be doing a lot of planting this coming spring," says Jacobs. But what about those 150,000 trees that have been sent to lots throughout the region? Is the drought going to stop your family from finding the perfect family Christmas tree?

"From day 1 when we first started cutting, the trees came in nice and heavy. We got some good rains, good precipitation, in the month of October, which really, really helped." Jacobs says older trees are more forgiving under drought stress, so you won't have to settle for a Charlie Brown tree this year.

Now as for those trees that were impacted by the drought. Jacobs says they'll be able to use fertilizer and some shearing techniques to hopefully help those trees along. He says they may need an extra year out in the fields, but when those trees do hit the lot he doesn't expect any kind of price hike.


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