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It’s hard out here on a Christmas tree

Another victim of the drought: Texas’ Christmas tree farms.

[T]he Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association estimates that less than half the owners of the state’s 100 Christmas tree farms had watering systems.

Those with the foresight to irrigate saved their trees, but their crop still did not grow as fast or as tall as usual. Also, farmers were saddled with additional electric costs for running water pumps, which they say they are not passing on to customers because of tough economic times.

“The way most of us are making up our losses is by hauling in trees cut in North Carolina, Washington and Oregon to sell,” said Mike Walterscheidt, the tree association’s executive secretary, who has a 23-acre farm near Austin.

In a normal year, he said his homegrown trees would have shot up 18 inches, but he’s seen zero growth this year despite irrigating.

If they’re lucky, we’ll have an El NiƱo summer next year. If not, there will be more imported trees and more tree farms having hard times.

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