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Drought Affects Christmas Tree Farms

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This summer’s extreme heat and lack of rainfall is being felt throughout the country, but even with cooler temperatures and the return of moisture; farmers of all kinds are dealing with the damage. These effects could follow us well into the holidays.     

Corn isn’t the only plant drying up this summer. Even Christmas tree farms are beginning to lose their charm. Tim Wassom is the owner of Tannenbaum Tree Farms in Lennox, and just like his corn crop; this year’s tree production has been the worst he’s seen by far.

“Because of the weather and the drought, it’s probably set me back a couple of years from where I would be if we had a normal growing situation,” says Wassom.

It doesn't help that he just finished relocating his trees, recently moving his business from the southwest side of Sioux Falls. The move, combined with the dry conditions, has made it difficult to get a lot of moisture. The trees haven't had much time to establish a good root system, and the lack of rain hasn't helped matters any, either.

But even without the move, Wassom says his trees would probably still be suffering.

“If we were in a normal growing situation, where we didn’t have the stress or lack of water; I’d expect this tree would have grown out at least this far,” says Wassom as he extends his arm about a foot from the tree.

But Wassom is staying optimistic. Although he may have lost many of his trees, there’s still hope for his business. A lot will depend on how the trees will fare over the next few months.

“It would be really important to have some rainfall going into the fall. That’s going to help the trees get through the winter a lot better,” says Wassom.

But even if we do have to settle for a Charlie Brown Christmas tree this year... Many farmers will not allow the Summer of 2012 be the Grinch that stole Christmas.

Wassom says he is considering the possibility of closing his business temporarily until his trees can recover from the drought and the move.
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