Christmas tree farmers in Oklahoma are looking forward to great tidings this 2015 after recovering from years of drought and poor sales.
Steven Wilkinson, owner of the Wilkinson Christmas Forest in Tahlequah, said the trees that endured years of dry spell bounced back nicely and are ready to be decorated in Christmas cheer.
According to the Journal Record, Christmas tree farms need to clock in years of investment and patience before they reap a profit. The farms are still dealing with heavy losses and current stock exposes the damages incurred from 2011 to 2013. Heavy rains also left some areas with too much stagnant water that caused fungal damage to roots.
"Fortunately, the trees we planted this year are looking fine. Of course, it'll be about five years before they're ready to harvest, but that's just the nature of the business," said Wilkinson.
Janda Bend Christmas Tree Farm co-owner Jerry Adams is facing the same dilemma. He started his farm in Stilwell back in 2001 with the first batch of plantings. He opened in 2004, but hit a wall after several years of operation. Without a straightforward access to power, his irrigation operations suffered. He then employed solar-powered well pumps to access uphill water, which in turn enabled him to save more trees.
John Knight, who owns Sorghum Mill Tree Farm based in Edmond, decided to set up shop earlier than his friends in the business. Knight irrigated his crops belligerently throughout the years of drought. This resulted in more saplings growing to full size and compensating for the cost of operations.
"This year was one of the best growing seasons we've had in a while," said Knight, whose farm sells thousands of pick-and-cut trees annually. Knight grows about 60 percent of all the trees he sells, with Scotch pine and Virginia pine as his homegrown bestsellers. For variety, he purchases other trees from producers in other parts of the U.S.
Despite its abundance, the Eastern red cedars remain unpopular.
Photo: Lori L. Stalteri | Flickr