Drought Threatening Christmas Tree Farms | NECN


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Drought Threatening Christmas Tree Farms

200 trees have already died. (Published Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016)

The Christmas holiday is still months away, but this year's season may not be so green because of Connecticut's drought. 

For Bob Slajda, who owns Old Orchard Farm, said the lack of rain is making the dirt feels dry like powder.

"You would expect to turn this over and see a little darker color than that," Slajda said about the dirt on his farm. 

Slajda has been gowing since 1975 and two years ago, he moved his Christmas tree business from East Windsor to East Granby. 

He says the trees take at least five years to grow before they are sold. 

Some of Slajda's Christmas trees aren’t surviving this year, he said.

"Really it’s always scary to be in agriculture but this is a scarier year than I’ve seen in a long time," said Slajda.

Slajda's farm has already lost 200 Christmas trees- valued at about $7,000 in future earnings- in the last several months from the drought. 

The farmer also faces problems with irrigating fields, which he usually does with well water once a week, but with the lack of rain, he can only do it once every two weeks. Slajda said he has to conserve is well water, which levels are extremely low at about 20 percent. 

"I really am unable to irrigate the entire field so that’s something I am going to have to look at. Either get out of the business or invest in irrigation," Slajda said. 

For now, he is paying hundreds of dollars extra in water and electricity for his trees survive and has been buying special fertilizer. 

"And I really don’t have an answer to where this goes next. It’s a concern. It’s a real concern," he said.

Slajda said that means the more farmers, like him, spend to keep their trees alive, the more you may have to pay for a Christmas tree.