(11/21/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — Consumers have been concerned about the availability of Christmas trees this year, but LSU AgCenter professionals say you should have no fear.
Dry conditions across the state have done considerable damage to many Christmas tree farms, but all is not lost, according to AgCenter forestry specialist Niels de Hoop.
“I have heard that irrigation has saved the commercial tree farms,” he said.
AgCenter area forester Whitney Wallace said there have been some losses, but the damage is not as bad as some would have you believe.
“I know some growers who have lost some trees this year, but this just makes it that much more important that we buy local,” she said.
AgCenter research associate Joe Nehlig said there will be a little bit of a shortage, but nothing to worry about.
“Believe me, we will have Christmas trees,” he said. “I’m growing from 500 to 600 at the Lee Memorial Forest near Bogalusa and I didn’t lose one tree.”
Nehlig said he grows the Carolina Sapphire species because it is more resistant to a fungus that attacks Christmas trees in this area.
“Most tree farmers are growing the Leyland Cypress variety, which is a pretty tree, but it’s susceptible to fungus,” he said.
Nehlig said the combination of the fungus and the drought affected Leyland Cypress growers the most.
The fungus can be controlled, but it requires a rigorous spray schedule every three weeks throughout the warmer months of the year.
Nehlig said he never irrigated this summer, so he sees the Carolina Sapphire species as one with greater drought tolerance.
“I have a neighbor who irrigated his Leylands this summer and, although he lost some trees, it was only a small percentage of his crop,” he said.
The extra expense will have to be passed on to the consumer, but for some, that is better than having to spend a whole holiday season without that smell of a natural tree.
So if you haven’t started shopping for your tree yet, then what are you waiting for? The growers are waiting for you.
Carolina Sapphire Christmas trees grow in the LSU AgCenter Lee Memorial Forest near Bogalusa. Photo by Joe Nehlig/LSU AgCenter
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture