Northwest Christmas tree harvests impacted by drought

HILLSBORO, Ore (KATU/CNN) – While it is may be Christmas in July all month long on the Hallmark Channel, record summer heat could be putting a damper on December’s celebration.

In the Pacific Northwest, where many of America’s Christmas trees are grown every year, record heat is taking a toll on next season’s crop.

It’s a sad sight at Furrow Farm in Hillsboro.

Dana and Matt Furrow couldn’t believe the damage from the recent heat. “It’s just really a bad time to be a Christmas tree farmer, probably the worst year we’ve had,” Matt said.

Dana added, “We knew there would be some damage especially to the grands and nobles, but I didn’t really think the Norman firs would have top damage like that.”

Even trees that do better at lower elevations gone. Dana said she felt helpless. “We’re sitting here watching trees that we’ve been growing for six plus years, every year you trim, fertilize, you have labor costs into that and you’re watching them all die in one day.”

Matt said, “This one over here, there may be no hope for that tree, that one is probably completely gone.”

Glenn Ahrens with OSU Extension said trees that were exposed to the heat likely suffered the most as opposed to trees sheltered by the forest canopy. “Certainly for this last event for trees that were already close to the edge, it will push them over and we’ll see trees dying as a result.”

However, the furrows are not giving up.

“We’re not sure how far its dying back yet, you can see it looks a little burnt and dehydrated, so were hoping there are going to be some live buds here, so it can grow out and make a new limb,” Matt said. “We hope we can still save that tree.”

The Furrows said they have already lost about half the Christmas trees they were planning to sell this holiday season and they’re not alone. The drought and extreme heat is likely to result in fewer trees to choose from overall–and higher prices this Christmas.

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