Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Why Oklahoma’s Drought Might Ruin Christmas

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The 2011 holiday season was really tough on Oklahoma Christmas tree farmers, but you probably didn’t notice.

Severe drought killed Christmas trees, which meant “no cutting” and “no business” for Oklahoma tree farmers — at least five of which went out of business, the Journal Record’s Brian Brus reports:

A second consecutive year of drought could lead to similar outcomes this season.

Customers usually don’t see any shortages because trees are shipped to Oklahoma to meet demand, the paper reports.

And while the holiday tree industry is small — there are only 35 active members of the Oklahoma Christmas Tree Association, the Journal reports — the losses illustrate an ongoing problem in Oklahoma’s agriculture sector:

… weather woes are compounded by the aging problem faced in most family ag operations: The next generation isn’t stepping up to take over from their parents.

Because it takes about 10 years for a Christmas tree to mature into a sellable product, tree producers face different challenges than farmers who plant and harvest annual crops, the paper reports:

… tree farmers are under the same pressure as cattle ranchers or wine producers, struggling to pace production over multiple seasons to keep a steady income flow. A couple of years of missed growth or death can be absorbed by the market, but it can still drive a Christmas tree operation out of business.

Bah! Humbug!


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