Wisconsin Christmas Trees Show the Effects of the Summer’s Heat and Drought

Extreme summer weather conditions have led to needle loss, stunted growth, browning and death for thousands of pine and fir Christmas trees. Find out what to look for when buying a tree this year.

For Wisconsin residents, one of the most popular holiday traditions is being impacted by the summer’s heat and severe drought. Christmas trees throughout southeastern and central Wisconsin are experiencing reduced needle production, stunted growth and browning as a result of the extreme weather conditions. Additionally, many of this year’s newly-planted Christmas trees were unable to survive the summer.

Impact on Tree Farms

Ottman Tree Farms has experienced the impact first hand. The farm lost every tree that was planted this year, as they were too weak to withstand the heat. While rain late in the season helped keep the older Christmas trees healthy, the extended hot and dry conditions led to slowed growth and decreased production of needles. To cope with these effects, we cut less trees and left trees that were too sparse on the farm. We also cut our trees as late in the season as we could, beginning just 12 days before Thanksgiving, to ensure they could absorb and retain as much water as possible.

What to Keep in Mind

When picking your perfect Christmas tree this season, keep in mind that there are still thousands of beautiful and quality Christmas trees, however, some species are visibly thinner with fewer needles near the trunk than trees in years past.

Pine trees, including white pine, Scotch pine and red pine, lost an extra year’s worth of needles. Typically, these trees retain 2-3 years worth of needles, but this year they only retained one or two years of needles, making the trees appear less dense. Fir trees, such as balsam, Fraser and Douglas, produced less overall growth.

About Ottman Tree Farms

Ottman Tree Farms, has been selling quality trees since 1946 and currently operates three farms that produce Christmas trees for wholesale and retail sale. During the holiday season, Ottman Tree Farms sells Christmas trees from its lot at N35w23986 Capitol Dr. in Pewaukee, Wis.

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Michael McClusky December 05, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Can we still call them Christmas trees? The Governor of Rhode Island certainly has a problem with it.
Luke December 05, 2012 at 03:53 AM
It is an organic, subjective-projection holiday casualty tree. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElJFYwRtrH4
Bob McBride December 05, 2012 at 12:51 PM
That's truly frightening.
Sandy December 05, 2012 at 02:33 PM
that really is frightening. Tree worship? Sitting in the woods and screaming and crying for the trees will change nothing. Meanwhile, in the real world, there are veterans who are homeless and lonely, children on the streets with nowhere to go, people going hungry, elderly in nursing homes with no one who cares about them...maybe a better use of their time would be to help these...I bet the trees would agree.
Luke December 06, 2012 at 06:18 AM
The odd thing is that those morons are walking and sitting on all sorts of plants, including the seedlings of trees. In a clearing like that there are about two tree seedlings in a square foot.


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