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December 1, 2012

AS GREEN AS EVER: Live Christmas tree yield largely unaffected by drought

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — John Martin knows a thing or two about Christmas trees.

For the last 44 years, Martin has operated the Christmas tree lot outside of the Kroger along 10th Street in Jeffersonville. When it comes to the holiday’s iconic decoration, he’s seen it all.

That’s why we’re happy to report that according to Martin, dry conditions during the summer in certain parts of the country had little effect on his supply. The drought has prompted many of Martin’s customers to put the question to him, but Martin claims his prices haven’t gone up in years.

“[Business] has been really great,” Martin said. “People have really responded.”

Martin’s white and Scotch pines hail from Michigan, where the growers tend to them with a steady drip irrigation system. The Fraser firs Martin sells hail from the Carolinas, which experienced above-average rainfall during the summer, not to mention some serious snow a few weeks ago.

“The trees have got plenty, plenty of moisture,” Martin, a semi-retired landscaper, said. “In fact, they’ll have more moisture this year than they’ve had in the past. I know a lot of people are scared of the drought ... but I feel the trees are in better shape this year.

“They’ve got great foliage on them. They’re as green as they can be. I think we’ve got the best-looking bunch of trees that we’ve had in years.”

Maybe’s its the quality of the trees. Maybe it’s another sign that the economy is on its way back. It could be that Thanksgiving came early this year. But the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was the biggest Martin’s business has ever seen, and it’s been steady since, Martin said.

Locally grown trees are in pretty good shape as well, according to Robin Ruckman with Bruce Real Tree Farm, located along Ekin Avenue in New Albany.

“They look pretty good this year,” Ruckman said.

But those are the mature plants, which have been growing for several years. Bruce Real Tree Farm grows its Scotch and white pine trees in Crawford County, which was along the edge of the area affected by drought.

“It was fairly hard on the younger, the new trees that were put in,” Ruckman said.

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