AP NEWS

Soggy spring, summer drought hurt Christmas tree crop

November 26, 2019 GMT

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A soggy spring followed by a summer drought has hurt the Christmas tree crop on at least one Kentucky farm.

Elizabeth Werkmeister Shafer told The Courier Journal she lost half of the 600 trees she planted this year at her Werkmeister Christmas Tree Farm in Bullitt County.

After an unusually wet spring, Louisville saw record-low rain in September. All 120 Kentucky counties issued drought declarations. A majority declared a level two drought, signaling a severe impact on crops.

Tim O’Connor, executive director for the National Christmas Tree Association, said he has not heard of serious drought-related losses this year, but droughts can have a major impact on new seedlings.

The full effect of the drought might not be known for years as it could have weakened trees that it did not kill outright.

For Werkmeister Shafer, who was already struggling to keep the family farm running after both her parents died in recent years, the drought was an especially hard blow.

Although it won’t impact her supply this year — she still plans to have around 300 trees available and expects to sell out within a few weeks — it means she will have to continue playing catch up for years to come.

“Often, everything comes up when you’re dealing with mother nature and farming,” she said. “I’m still learning.”

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Information from: Courier Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com