December is here, bringing the holiday season and winter weather with it. Oftentimes, snow and cold contribute to season weather woes, but it could actually be the sunshine that puts a damper on your holiday plans.
Online rumors always gain traction around this time of year, saying that there is a national Christmas tree shortage and that you may miss your chance to deck the halls.
There is some level of truth to the gossip - farms in major tree-growing states such as Oregon, Michigan, and North Carolina have experienced lower yields in recent years.
Luckily for Northeast Ohioans, there’s no shortage of Christmas trees to go with that Christmas spirit.
“Most Ohio growers, at least in Northern Ohio, have had above average rainfall the summer of 2019 so we’ve had good growth on the trees that are ready to sell or getting in that size range, so we’re doing okay,” says Marty Flower, owner of Flower Tree Farm in Kent.
Flower Tree Farm has been selling Christmas trees since the late 1970’s - they offer freshly cut and cut-your-own trees across their 50 acre farmland.
“We plant close to 2,000 trees a year, and we probably sell 500 to 1,000 trees in a year. Mercifully, the last two or three years we have had above normal rainfall late spring/early summer, when we needed so,” says Flower. “Our crop is normal, or a little better than normal.”
Word of a shortage came as no surprise to Flower, however. Cultivating Christmas trees is an extremely difficult process that takes years of planning and preparation.
The growth period for Christmas trees varies depending on the type of tree you get. Generally, they take around seven to ten years to grow to maturity, towering at up to 10 feet tall. Farmers have to try and forecast their harvests based on all kinds of conditions and factors.
“It’s not like a corn crop where you can plant it in the spring and harvest it late summer and know where you’re at, we’ve got almost ten years of variables with weather - and the deer like some and not others, naturally the deer like the most expensive ones,” says Flowers.
“In a good year we’ll probably lose 20% of what we plant. In a drought year, you’ll lose half of more.” says Flowers. “Not only do you lose your investment in the seedlings, you lose a year of growth, and six or eight years down the road that can have an effect on the numbers.”
And although we might not be the biggest fans of rainy warm days, Flower says that heavy precipitation in the spring and summer is just what the trees need.
“Seedlings are planted in early April and you’ll need about an inch of rainfall a week at least to stay healthy,” says Flower. “I know that no one wants a rainy summer weekend, but you need rain for the trees to grow - a few wet days over the summer is well worth it for a nice, full Christmas tree.”
Flower Tree Farm is open every day from now until December 22nd - for more information about their trees, visit their website at flowertreefarm.com.
Maddy Haberberger is a TV2 reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.