Experts say recent drought conditions have not hurt the Christmas tree crop grown in Mississippi this year. But as MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, one local farmer says he can tell a big difference in how lack of rain has affected his trees.
Lloyd Ousterhout runs his family's Christmas tree farm near Pelahatchie. He says it takes about five to six years of growth before a tree is ready, but this year was different.
"They grew fairly well in the spring, until they started getting into the dry weather. Then they pretty much shut down and just sat there."
Mississippi State University Extension Service expects local Christmas tree production will be flat this season. They project tree farms will bring in approximately $1.7 million from selling more than 30,000 trees. You'll pay $56 on average, or somewhere between $7 to $10 per foot.
"Virginia Pine. 5 foot today."
Patsy Peavy, of Morton, says she's been buying her trees from Ousterhout ever since she can remember.
"I love coming out here because it's close. I don't like going to the stores, Wal Mart and all that, to get a tree. I would rather come out here. It's like a family to come out here. It's just awesome."
Ousterhout's most popular tree is the Leland Cypress. It doen't drop needles, but it doesn't smell like a pine. Despite having different size trees this year, he says he plans to sell out.
"I've already run out of my 9 and 10 footers, and will run out of the 8's this week probably. I won't sell as many of tall trees this year, but money-wise it comes out alright."
Ousterhout says he hopes regular rain patterns will return for his future tree crop.