Extreme heat killing Christmas trees, Ore. farmer says they've lost half of their crop

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Sunday, July 18, 2021
Extreme heat killing Christmas trees at farms in northeast
COVID ruined last Christmas for many and now record summer heat in the Pacific Northwest could putting a damper on this year's holiday.

HILLSBORO, Oregon -- Many are celebrating Christmas in July with friends and family after COVID kept everyone apart last year and now the record summer heat could be putting a damper on this year's holiday.

In the pacific northwest, where many of America's Christmas trees are grown, the punishing heat is taking a toll on next season's crop.

"It's just really a bad time to be a Christmas tree farmer, probably the worst year we've had," Matt Furrow, who owns and operates Furrow Farms in Hillsboro, Oregon, said.

Furrow and his wife, Dana, said they couldn't believe the damage from the recent heat.

"We knew there would be some damage, especially to the grands and nobles, but I didn't really think the norman firs would have top damage like that," Dana said.

Even trees that do better at lower elevations are gone, the Furrows said they feel helpless.

"We're sitting here watching trees that we've been growing for six-plus years. Every year you trim, fertilize, you have labor costs into that and you're watching them all die in one day," Dana said.

Glenn Ahrens with Oregon State University Extension Service said trees that were exposed to the heat likely suffered the most as opposed to trees sheltered by the forest canopy.

"Certainly for this last event for trees that were already close to the edge, it will push them over and we'll see trees dying as a result," Ahrens said.

But the Furrows are not giving up.

"We're not sure how far it's dying back yet, you can see it looks a little burnt and dehydrated, so we're hoping there are going to be some live buds here, so it can grow out and make a new limb. We hope we can still save that tree," Matt Furrow said.

The Furrows say they have already lost about half the Christmas trees they were planning to sell this holiday season, and they're not alone.

The drought and extreme heat are likely to result in fewer trees to choose from overall and higher prices this Christmas.