Summer of 2014 has brought a bit of relief for Christmas tree farmers in central Oklahoma, after making it through several years of severe drought. This year marked the second in a row that tree farmers saw enough moisture to sprout Christmas tree seedlings upwards of two to three feet in some cases.
Bob Martin and his wife Carolyn have been in the Christmas tree business for more than 30 years. We spoke with the owners of Martinbird Tree Farm in 2011 after two years of extreme drought conditions. The pair was shipping in Christmas trees after dry conditions wiped out more than half of their crop. Since then, several Christmas tree farms have closed down in Oklahoma, because they lost too much, too quickly and did not foresee recovering for years.
The Martins got through the drought and saw exceptional growth in 2013 and again in 2014, helping cut some of the loss as the Christmas trees have sprouted up more quickly than usual.
“The ones that have really grown would be the ones like these are the second year seedlings,” Martin explained as he took News 9 for a tour of the newly planted fields.
The tiny trees might not be ready for ornaments and a star, but the rapid growth of the seedlings this year will ensure Christmas trees for years to come and guarantees business for tree farms like Martinbird.
“So many of them actually went out of business you know," said Martin. "Three years, two and three years ago, a large number of them went out, because they just lost everything because of the drought.”
The rain that has come so far this summer has been a blessing, according to Martin. It has allowed for a second growing season in one year. Some of the trees have grown up to six inches in just the last couple of months.
“It's come good. It hasn't come real like floods or anything. It's come where the, all the water has soaked in," said Martin. "So, oh yeah, the trees look great. It's a great year.”
Martin said he and other farms around central Oklahoma are still behind because of the drought, and it will take another good season or two in order to fully recuperate the losses they suffered during the drought.