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Live Christmas trees damaged by drought


UNDATED (WSAU)   Wisconsin families are just now finding out that the drought did a lot of damage to the state’s supply of Christmas trees. Many tree lots still have good supplies – but those who like to chop-their-own are seeing a harsh reality. The state Agriculture Department said over one-of-every-five Christmas tree farms in the Badger State were damaged by the lack of precipitation.

State inspectors said 97 fields of the 446 they inspected had some kind of drought damage. Just over 210 people own those businesses. Much of the damage was in southern Wisconsin, which had the most severe drought conditions in the state this summer. Christopher Deegan of the Ag Department’s plant protection division said over 40-percent of Christmas trees died in the Central Sands’ counties of Adams, Marquette, Waushara, and Waupaca.

John Riehle of Dousman figures that he lost 90-percent of his plantings from the last three years – and he’ll have to end up burning damaged trees which are over four-feet tall. And U-W Extension forestry specialist John DuPlissis says the upcoming winter could also produce a major killing of Christmas trees – depending on their condition when they go into dormancy. Wisconsin is the nation’s 5th-largest Christmas tree producer. Almost a million trees are normally harvested each year on 11-hundred tree farms.