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Drought in Missouri leads to extra work to maintain Christmas trees; tree prices expected to increase


According to the U.S. drought monitor, the majority of Missouri is currently experiencing drought conditions.

Gov. Mike Parson recently signed an executive order to extend the drought alert in the state until May 1, 2024. The drought alert was initially created with an executive order on May 31 in response to severe drought conditions.

The lack of rain has caused farmers to be more attentive when maintaining trees used to decorate for Christmas this year, according to Wayne Harmon, owner of Starr Pines Christmas Tree Farm. Harmon said that due to the extremely dry conditions, he had to turn his irrigation system on earlier this year to ensure trees received the correct amount of water.

"It has been a struggle," Harmon said. "Early may we turned the irrigation on and it ran until about two weeks ago. That's the longest period that we've ever run irrigation, and I mean running every day." 

Harmon said the drought did not effect the amount of trees that grew on his farm; and he expects to have trees available through Dec. 24. However, he noted that the lack of rain affected the way the trees grew, adding that most did not grow as long and wide as seen in years prior.

The smaller trees made preparing them easier for farmers, according to Harmon.

"But that made it easier trimming, so once we've hand sheared every tree you really can't tell the difference," Harmon said.

According to the American Christmas Tree Association, Christmas trees are expected to cost 10% more this year than last. Harmon said the cost of pines at his farm were increased by $1, while the cost of firs will remain the same. However, Harmon said due to inflation, the cost of goods across the country have had to be increased.

"We've tried to hold our prices on some, and on others we've raised it just a little bit to cover the costs that we have. Everything's gotten more expensive," Harmon said.

Krystal Wiseman and her family travel an hour to Starr Pines every year to buy their tree. Wiseman said she understands that their tree will be more expensive this year, but that it wont have any effect on their decision.

"Nope, the girls get out and we go get what we want," Wiseman said.

Thanksgiving was the first day the tree farm opened for the season. Harmon said business was good on the first day, and multiple people lined up at the farm when it first opened at 9 a.m. Due to this, Harmon said he doesn't foresee the slight increase in price having an impact on people purchasing trees.

"I mean, we're seeing that nationwide with all commodities people are buying," Harmon said. "I think we'll be fine until Christmas."

Harmon noted that the drought should not have an effect on trees after they are purchased. However, he said just like any year, people will need to double check that their tree stands have water in them multiple times a day to ensure the tree stays alive.

Article Topic Follows: Holidays

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Nia Hinson


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