Dry, hot weather hurting Christmas tree farmers

60 to 70 percent of the trees planted this year at Whispering Pines tree farm have died.

FLUSHING TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Hot, dry July weather is already threatening to impact Christmas.

Whispering Pines Christmas Tree Farm in Flushing Township faces a variety of challenges each year.

"There's always a challenge one thing or another, different bugs, different pests, always something," said Fred Fras, who has worked on Whispering Pines Tree Farm for decades.

This year's blistering heat and extended dry weather has taken a toll on his tree farm.

"The drought of two weeks without rain plus the temperatures in the 90s has really sapped our crop,” said Fras.

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At Whispering Pines Tree Farm, they're not worried about the trees for 2018, the bigger trees should be just fine. They are worried about the crop they planted in the spring that has dried out.

Many of the smaller trees did not get enough water and are completely dried up.

"It means that next year we probably have to almost double up on our order from what we planted this year to re-supply those trees. It's just taking and re-working those fields and getting them re-prepared for next year. It's all added expense and work," said Fras.

It takes six or seven years to grow a six or seven foot Christmas tree.

That means in half a dozen years, Whispering Pines and other tree farmers could have a shortage of Christmas trees.

The solution is to buy more full-grown trees from another farm in six or seven years to supplement the trees he grows.

"That's a considerable larger expense for us," said Fras.

The drought might mean more work and extra cost, but Fras said it won't stop his family farm.

"Even with all the challenges I wouldn't trade it for anything I've been doing this all my life, it's a great experience,” he said.

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