Science

Christmas trees are set to cost 20 percent more in the US because of the relentless drought

The relentless drought plaguing the US could steal Christmas. 

Tree farms across the US have been forced to close before Christmas due to a drought that has killed tens of thousands of trees

The abnormally low rainfall has killed tens of thousands, if not more, of evergreen conifers this year and the trees left will cost, on average, nearly $100 – a 20 percent markup from last year.

From New England to Texas, tree-cutting farms across the nation have been forced to close in the past few weeks due to this summer’s drought that impacted growth and stressed mature trees until their needles turned brown.

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One farm in Kansas, Prairie Pines Christmas Tree Farm, has not closed its doors, but owner Kip Scott told KWCH-DT that he planted thousands of trees earlier this year but lost 75 percent to the drought.

The price increase is not just due to a lack of supply, as inflation has forced growers to pay 50 percent more for supplies like fertilizers.

The latest data from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) reports more than 59 percent of the lower 48 states were in drought from November 16 through 22.

And in the same week, 375.4 million crops were impacted.

Over the summer, drought plagued 40 percent of the country, with Texas, where one tree farm closed, feeling the brunt of it.

Kathy Radde, co-owner Radde Tannenbaum Farm in Meridian, told KCEN-TV News” ‘It was a hard decision to [shutdown]to say that we just don’t have trees that will be pleasing to people.

‘We just knew it is better to lay out a year with cutting and give the trees a chance to be beautiful again.’ 

The Newport Daily News spoke to the family who owns Clark’s Christmas Tree Farm in Tiverton, Rhode Island and found they were also struggling.

The trees left will cost, on average, nearly $100 - a 20 percent markup from last year

The trees left will cost, on average, nearly $100 – a 20 percent markup from last year

Emily Watne, one of the farm’s owners, said: ‘Everyone will show up the first weekend of December expecting acres and acres of healthy trees, and they just won’t be.

‘They’ll be thin, they’ll be maybe a little bit brown … I would look into places that do tagging, think about it a little bit earlier than usual.’

Clarks Christmas Tree Farm announced the closure on Facebook.

‘A couple of issues have led to this; this summer’s drought stressed our crop in a way that left many trees susceptible to various pathogens,’ reads the post.

‘We don’t think our trees are up to our standards. And 2, we were not able to purchase fresh cut trees from our RI Grower source.’

The drought, which plagued the US for 101 weeks, stressed trees and now many are left with brown needles

The drought, which plagued the US for 101 weeks, stressed trees and now many are left with brown needles

Massachusetts was also hit hard by the drought – 80 percent of the state was experiencing moderate to severe drought by mid-July, Gizmodo reports.

CNBC Boston reported one tree farmer lost more than 1,000 trees planted this spring, which adds up to a 95 percent loss.

Some farms are bussing in trees from other areas, such as Michigan, states in the Pacific Northwest and the Carolinas, Good Morning America reports. 

Woody Woodruff, owner of Kadee Farm in Greenville, Texas who is trucking in trees, told GMA: ‘Of course those trees are going to be more expensive. So the consumer is going to pay more this year when they go to find a live tree.

‘And if you go to any of the big box stores, I’ve noticed that their artificial trees have really skyrocketed as well. That’s again due to inflation and shipping. 


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