Christmas Tree Farms Statewide Dealing With Threats

Tree farms across the state are dealing with several threats, including disease, drought and deer.
BOALSBURG, CENTRE COUNTY - Tree farms across the state are dealing with several threats, including drought, disease and deer.

According to the state Christmas Tree Growers Association, Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation in the number of Christmas tree farms and fourth in the number of Christmas trees cut each year.

But farms statewide are dealing with several threats, including too many deer.

The Locklin family is looking for that perfect tree and with about 4,000 fully grown ones at Tait Farm, Inc., looks like they made out just fine.

"If you carry this, I'll carry the tree," Ralph Locklin, of Benner Township, said.

But other trees at Tait Farm aren't so lucky.

"We lost some small trees that were planted this year," John Tait, Owner of Tait Farm, Inc. said.

He blames a drought.

"We got them in and then it was dry in the summer," he said. "We probably lost maybe 10 percent."

He doesn't anticipate the lost crop to effect sales for another six to eight years since they were young trees, but he says diseases and insects play a role in destroying trees, too.

"There's a needle cast disease that we need to spray for in the Douglas Fir," Tait said.

Deer aren't much help, either.

"There are a few deer in here and they scrape their antlers on a few trees every year and mess them up," Tait said.

Tait says his far is lucky. Others in Pennsylvania haven't fared so well, including Fleming's Christmas Tree Farm in Indiana, PA. The owner there says deer are the biggest culprit most years, last year wiping out about 22,000 of his 250,000 trees and over 4,000 already this year.

"You need to pay attention to what's come into your trees," Tait said. "We're always worried about it. You never know if something is going to come along."

Tait says so far, so good this holiday season, with sales averaging about the same as last year.
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