Christmas Trees Affected by Drought |

Christmas Trees Affected by Drought

Updated: September 24, 2021 10:14 PM
Created: September 24, 2021 09:32 PM

Farmers across the Northland have been affected by this summer’s drought.

“We have good, heavy soil here, but it still was very dry,” said Hoffbauer Tree Farm Co-Owner Lois Hoffbauer. “By June 1st, it was very dry and we could see that it was going to be a problem.”

The Hoffbauer Tree Farm planted 5,000 transplants in early May. A transplant is a seedling that is 1-3 years old with a full set of roots. As the drought worsened over the summer, 25-50% of the newly-planted transplants died. 

“We can lose probably about 10% on an average year,” Hoffbauer said. “10-20 percent. So we expect to lose some, but this year, because of the drought, it was extreme.”

Despite the drastic loss in Christmas tree transplants, consumers will not feel the effects this year. Trees that are sold for the holiday are older than the transplants that were affected by the drought. 

“The more established trees have roots that are further into the ground, so they can go further to get water,” Hoffbauer explained. “Before the rain came, it was dry. From six inches and up, it was dry. So if the roots are down a foot or two feet, they’re going to be fine. It’s the transplants that we put in this year that only have roots that are 3-4 inches long that are affected by that.” 

It takes ten years for a transplant to grow into a full-grown tree. Because of this, there could be a tree shortage in ten years due to this year’s drought. 

This week’s rain helped tremendously, alongside the cooler temperatures

“A week ago, we were getting nervous. We were getting very nervous, and now I’m feeling really confident,” Hoffbauer said. “Especially with the cool weather because we also make Christmas wreaths and things like that, and we have to have a hard frost before we can cut the greenery to make a wreath.” 

Trees from the Hoffbauer tree farm will be sold at the Duluth Farmer’s Market starting November 13th, which is sooner than usual due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“We want to have fewer people in the market at one time and we’re trying to spread it out, so we’re opening a little early,” Hoffbauer explained. “Don’t be afraid to come and get your trees because they are in great shape for this year, and there is a lot of moisture in the ground right now.”

The latest drought information can be found here.

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