Local Christmas tree farm pushes through drought - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Local Christmas tree farm pushes through drought

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The latest drought monitor released on Friday shows 50% of South Dakota is in the extreme drought category. Counties in far SE South Dakota in the exceptional category, which is the worst.

As we approach the Fall season and the holidays are just three months away, some things we don't often think about are Christmas trees.

They are the sights and smells that take us back to the holidays, fresh Christmas trees that many of us can't do without.

This year, some of those trees are in jeopardy and Mother Nature is to blame.

"For Christmas Tree sales, if people come to cut them, we don't have the lasting ability of those trees in their homes and they shed needles much quicker, it's a quality concern," Kate Parkinson said.

Parkinson owns the Emerald Tree Farm and Stonegate Landscaping near Brandon. For most tree farms, it takes years to prep the trees for those who come and pick them.

"We're in a pretty extreme climate for trees, tall grass prairie. Trees wouldn't choose to grow here unless we plant them here. Our trees look good since we've been watering them since the end of June," Parkinson said.

To keep them looking good, Parkinson waters the entire 5-acre farm at least once every three weeks. What makes it tough, though, is little moisture in the soil dries them out much faster.

"If the people come out into the field and the trees look a little dull in color or have dead needles hanging, that could be the result of a drought, that doesn't mean the tree is bad or it couldn't recover. That's not going to help the current year," Parkinson said.

She says she's not letting the drought get the best of her... or her farm.

"I hope this is the only year we're this hot and dry. If we're this hot next year, well we really need to get some rain," she said.

The drought has also made a big impact on leaves changing colors, this year. Peak season is the beginning of October, but with the drought and water restrictions on some cities, it's hard to maintain trees in yards.

Parkinson suggests taking a hose to your trees at home once a week to help them stay fresh and produce those fall colors.

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