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Wausau Christmas Trees Survive Summer Drought

By: Madeline Anderson
By: Madeline Anderson

Wisconsin is among the top 10 Christmas tree-producing states in the country, but this summer's historic drought left many farmers wondering if they'd have enough selection come the holidays.

At Highland Trees in Wausau, the 80-acre farm felt the heat back in July.

"We did a lot of hand watering," said owner Jim Martin. "We took a crew of four and we went out for days at a time and we did this four times over all of our little trees."

Martin says he's never seen such hot, dry weather. Had he relied solely on mother nature, the crop would have lost years of growth, and in turn, he would have lost significant business. Luckily, the manual labor paid off.

"Everything came through good," Martin said. "We had a good growth year, actually, and with the later rainfall we got [this fall], things perked up a little bit. We did lose a little bit of color on the trees."

The pine needles are slightly paler and lighter compared to their typical emerald green, but to the average Christmas tree hunter, it's not noticeable.

"The selection is great," Amy Stack said. She and her family looked for two trees Sunday--one for Grandma and one for themselves.

"We always look for a Fraser," Stack said. "Ever since I was little, my mom, that was the tree she got. And when we started our own family, I just kind of carried on the tradition of getting the Fraser. They hold their needles so well and they smell really great too."

The farm has already sold 500 trees since it opened Thanksgiving weekend. Martin says there are around 20,000 that are ready to be cut down, taken home and decorated.


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