This summer's drought has killed a lot of Christmas tree seedlings, but growers say they will have plenty of mature trees for families to haul home for the holidays.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Even though the summer's drought killed many Christmas tree seedlings, growers say they will have plenty of mature trees for people to haul home for the holidays.
Growers are reporting losses of younger trees, including those that were routinely watered, according to a report in the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/Ydjf9Z ). Many growers say their prices will be the same as last year, or maybe a little higher- $5 to $8 per foot.
Marvin Kohout, the owner of Kohout's Christmas Trees near Dorchester, says he had 1,500 trees in containers this year and only about 50 survived the extreme conditions.
Kohout said he heard of one grower who poured about 250,000 gallons of water on his trees to try to save them from the heat and wind.
"It's kind of discouraging," said Kohout, who has been in the Christmas tree business since 1984.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln climatologist Ken Dewey said that as of Oct. 31, the state was experiencing its driest and second-warmest year on record. So far this year, Lincoln's precipitation total is nearly 10 inches below normal.
Kohout has about 300 field trees of all shapes and sizes. He said might try to raise some more trees in containers next year, but this could be his last year in the family business that he has scaled down over the last decade.
Judi and Les Korte, owners of Prairie Woods, west of Sprague, hauled water from two wells around the clock to water their trees.
"We didn't really have rain out here at all in July and August," Judi Korte said. "The older, established trees did pretty good with that (irrigation). The new trees we planted this year, I think all of them died."
The Kortes, who began selling Christmas trees for the first time last year, lost about 50 seedlings and 10 older trees.
Pinecrest Tree Farm in Blue Springs, owned by Gary and Cherri Trump, got a jump-start on holiday sales. They let customers come in mid-September to tag their tree, and will cut it down later.
"We lost about 80 percent of our seedlings," Cherri Trump said of their 60-acre farm. It takes six years to grow a Christmas tree before it's ready to be sold, and the seedlings were about a foot tall, she said.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com