Rush is on for Christmas tree growers

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Lakeville, Minn., resident John Messier secures a Christmas tree to the roof of his vehicle Friday. Messier bought this tree from Teal’s Tree Farms in Bark River.

BARK RIVER — With the holiday season now in full swing, many people in the area have begun looking for seasonal decorations — including Christmas trees.

“So far, it’s been pretty busy,” Teal’s Tree Farms owner Joe Teal said of business at his farm. Teal has owned the Bark River farm, which opened to the public on Black Friday, for about 36 years.

While Teal’s is well-known locally for its Christmas trees, it also sells wreaths and other evergreen products to floral wholesalers in the region.

“The Christmas greens is our (biggest) part of our business,” Teal said.

The rainy conditions seen in the area this spring and summer have had an impact on many local farmers. Teal said that these conditions had a negative effect on tree health in some areas of his farm this year.

“We lost a lot of little trees, and we have areas where the big trees have turned yellow,” he said. He noted the most heavily affected areas of his farm were low-lying places where rainwater was able to collect.

Teal said he plans to cut down any trees that died as a result of the rainfall in the spring of 2018. Beyond this, however, he said the only thing he can do is to hope for less rainfall next year.

“We don’t need any more rain,” he said.

Teal said it is too early to know how this year’s rainfall will affect the Christmas trees that did make it to the holiday season.

“We won’t know until we get going,” he said. However, the farm’s evergreen products have held up well this year, which he said is a good sign for their trees.

Even in years with normal amounts of rainfall, Teal said, keeping a Christmas tree alive from Black Friday to Christmas Day can be challenging for people.

“If they’re going to leave it up until Christmas, that’s quite a span,” he said.

Teal noted that Fraser firs typically retain their needles longer than other Christmas tree varieties — a fact which makes them particularly popular early in the holiday season at his farm.

“That’s usually what people come after in the beginning,” he said.

Whenever they pick up their Christmas trees, Teal encouraged people to keep the trees away from heat sources.

“Any time you put it in front of a window or by heat registers … it shortens the life up on it,” he said.

Teal also said tree owners should place their tree’s trunk in water as soon as they can and check the level of water regularly.

“You’ve got to make sure you keep it watered,” he said.