By MARIE GILBERT
November 27, 2010
BOONSBORO — This time of the year, Gary Cline stands at the edge of his 24-acre property and smiles as he listens to the sounds of Christmas — the back-and-forth of a hand saw and the thud of a Fraser fir.
These are the cold, gray days he’s been waiting for, the days when there isn’t a Grinch in sight, just families walking slowly between rows of evergreens.
Cline is a Christmas tree farmer and on the first weekend after Thanksgiving, his business — South Mountain Plantation — comes alive.
Hundreds of people make their way to the Boonsboro farm each year in search of the perfect holiday tree and the experience of cutting it down and bringing it home.
But few visitors wandering through the spruces, firs and pines this year will realize the farm was on the receiving end of one of Mother Nature’s crueler tricks last summer.
Because of a serious drought, Cline said most of the seedlings he planted were lost....
...Cindy Stacy, publicist with MCTA and owner of Pinetum, a wholesale tree farm in Garrett County, said the trees especially hit hard by the drought were those that had been in the ground less than three years.
“Their root systems just weren’t deep enough,” she said.
Stacy said evergreens grow less with the lack of moisture and they harden off earlier in the fall, which shuts down growth. Some varieties of conifers also might have shed more than the normal complement of needles early to reduce stress.
While the drought was hard on plants, Stacy said it was good for insects.
“So there was more insect damage on trees,” she said. “On our farm, we couldn’t sell many Fraser fir, for example, because of loss of quality due to insect damage. This is a byproduct of the severe drought. We had to cancel a couple of tree orders due to this problem this season.”
Stacy said the drought didn’t affect wholesale prices “because those are set in July.”
Read the full article here.
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