Drought Rough On Christmas Tree Farmers

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(Nesbit,MS) At the Merry Christmas Tree Farm in Nesbit, Mississippi, there are a lot of tree varieties and sizes to choose from, and owner Mullins Doles says it will be that way for many Christmases to come, "We are in good shape."

Doles wasn't too sure that would be the case just a few months ago.

Due to the dry conditions and excessive heat, he lost about ten of his new saplings and was worried he might lose more.

"Yeah, it really was a rough year. It really was," said Doles.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture reports some Christmas Tree Farmers lost up to 80 percent of their seedlings and 10 to 20 percent of their mature trees.

Doles says he got lucky.

He also credits his years of experience, good soil, and a good irrigation system for saving most of his young trees, "The main thing was to keep them sprayed for fungus, and if they are looking distressed keep them watered. That is about all you can do."

Not only did Mullins survive the drought, but he's doing quite well this year.

He's already sold 1,000 trees and expects to sell 500 more before Christmas.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture says the drought could impact the prices of some trees in the state this year.

Doles says you are still going to get some the best deals at tree farms like his, "We try to be reasonable with them, that way we sell more trees."

Most of the tree losses were reported in White Pine and Leland Cypress trees, varieties grown primarily in Middle and West Tennessee.