California drought stunts Christmas trees

GREENBRAE, Calif. (KGO) -- If your Christmas tree seems a little off this year, you can blame the drought in California. Growers say the lack of rain is making the centerpiece of the holiday shorter than normal.

For many families it's an annual tradition -- picking out the perfect Christmas tree.

"We're excited because it is our baby's first Christmas," Daniel Kelley, a tree shopper, said.

Rachel Bevan from Corte Madera said, "We found a great tree and I'm really excited to go home and decorate it."

Pronzini Farms in Greenbrae grows its batch of Douglas and Noble Firs up in Oregon. Meanwhile, local tree farms in the Bay Area have had an especially challenging year.

"The buds aren't quite as large as they should be and the needles aren't as long as they should be," Paul Illingworth, owner of Castro Valley Tree, said.

The farm says people who go there to chop down their own tree might notice some differences.

"What's happened is the drought has done has kept the trees smaller than they have in the past," Illingworth said.

The trees are all about a foot shorter and he says a little bit of moisture could change the look in time for Christmas.

Real Trees can dry out so you have to keep them watered. Some require more than a gallon of water a day. The drought has a lot of Californians rethinking this holiday tradition. Third of Californians say the drought will impact their tree choice. Some aren't planning to display one at all.

And others are going artificial. Sales of fake trees are expected to go up. At the Holiday Shoppe in Sausalito shoppers stop in to scoping out the decorations. Families we talked to like the look of artificial trees, but prefer the smell of the real thing.

"Nothing compares to the Christmas tree smell in your house," Kelley said.

"We had an artificial tree once and it was horrible and we will never do it again, for us it just didn't work. I wanted the smell and the pine needles to fall on the floor and get annoyed about it and vacuum them up.
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