For some, a natural Christmas tree is the only way to go for the holidays.
The evergreen trees sold during the Christmas season take up to seven years to reach maturity. During that growing season, weather and animals are the tree farmer’s biggest enemies. This year the region’s industry was another victim of the 2012 drought.
J & J Century Farm co-owner Beverly Wall grows half a dozen evergreen varieties in Montgomery County, Tennessee. Wall says she lost about 20 percent of her trees this summer. But she fared better than some other farmers.
“I’ve heard from Middle Tennessee here in Clarksville all the way to Crossville, and it’s varied from my 20 percent to as much as 50 to 75 percent of their trees. Even full-grown trees in Crossville," said Wall.
Wall says too little and too much water are always a factor in growing trees. And animals rutting and rubbing can also cause damage. Growers' response to tree loss has been mixed. Some are raising prices on certain species. Others won't.
Wall says she won’t raise her prices this year, because she hasn’t spent extra time shaping her trees into a triangular shape.