Droughts are expected to intensify as global warming advances. Abnormally low rainfall in Tennessee this year hit the evergreen crops that will supply Christmas trees in roughly eight years.
“It killed all the plants I put out” this year, said Steve Brown, owner of Brown’s Holiday Farm in Gallatin. “When we got those record hot temperatures and then the rain stopped coming, it just killed them all.”
Record heat and abnormally dry conditions conspired to cause significant losses, especially among seedlings and saplings, local growers say. That could result in higher prices in the future, when those trees would have been hitting the market.
“The drought sure made it rough this year,” said Wayne Pressler, owner of Kirkwood Tree Farm in Clarksville, who estimated he lost about half of his roughly 400 trees.
Other growers reported losing up to 80 percent of trees that were planted in the past year, and as much as 20 percent of older trees, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture said.