East Tennessee Christmas tree farm feels effects of drought

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HEISKELL (WATE) – While many are dreaming of a white Christmas, Christmas tree farmers have been dreaming of a wet November.

The rainfall deficit for the year is at over nine inches and the drought monitor across East Tennessee continues to worsen. The drought has taken a toll on farmers across East Tennessee, including Christmas tree businesses.

Leo Collins, the owner of Bluebird Christmas Tree Farms said that while drought caused a shortage of trees, it has impacted how long Christmas trees remain “fresh.”

“In the past, we’ve been very cocky about that, oh yeah they’ll last, not a problem. This year we’re not so cocky,” said Collins. “They’re still green, they’re still shaped fine, they look good in the field, but we know they’re stressed.”

Collins said typically they get a good rain, which helps the trees “charge back up again.”

“We’re just trying to make sure the customers know if they come to cut a tree that they at least strongly think about the fact that it is already drought stressed and it is not going to last as long as usual,” said Collins.

More: Find an East Tennessee Christmas tree farm

Bluebird and other places in town, like Mayo Garden Center are shipping in trees from areas that are seeing lower drought conditions, like the Carolinas. Claxton Mayo, the owner of Mayo Gardens said one of his growers is in South Carolina, where they received quite a lot of rain from the hurricane.

“He said he cut a tree in the first of October and put it in a picture window and still looks good today,” said Mayo.

Another way to stretch the lifespan of your tree is to get a Christmas tree that has been flocked. This is a process where the tree is sprayed down with a mixture of adhesive and cellulose fibers to make it look like it is white with snow. The process also helps to lock in moisture.

If your family tradition is to cut your own tree at a local farm, don’t be discouraged. The messages to be, you might just want to get your tree later in December in order to ensure it is still full and green on Christmas Day.

Luckily, both Bluebird Christmas Tree Farms and Mayo Gardens said the drought is not impacting prices this season. They said trees will be about the same price as last year.

In order to compensate for the drought, both Bluebird Christmas Tree Farms and mayo Garden said they will get larger and more frequent shipments of trees by the end of the week. They said their shipment will continue right up until Christmas.

How to pick out and care for a Christmas tree:

  • Know how tall your ceiling is before you go pick out a tree
  • Know the maximum width of a tree trunk your stand can hold
  • Make sure your vehicle is big enough to carry it and you have ways of securing it to your vehicle
  • Make a fresh cut at about a quarter to a half of an inch on your tree when you arrive home and then put in water.
  • There are several wive’s tales about adding things to the trees water like aspirin, soda or syrup, but those don’t work. Plain water and lots of it works best.
  • Check water level several times a day for the first few days as this is when it soaks up the most water. After that, you can check the water level once a day.

 

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