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December 9, 2012

Number of state’s tree farms dropping

FLETCHER, Okla. — The rolling hills of rural Fletcher are home to the only Christmas tree farm still operating in southwest Oklahoma.

LaRue and DeAnn Hill of D&L Christmas Trees and Wreaths know these weeks going into Christmas will be hectic but that is what they have been getting ready for every year since 1988.

“I was working for Elgin schools and a Department of Forestry guy told me you just plant a bunch of trees and five years later cut them and sell them. So that’s what I did.

“Well, three years later I knew I couldn’t sell them so I called the guy back up and asked him what was wrong and he asked me ‘Have you trimmed them?’

“I told him he hadn’t said anything about trimming them when we had that first conversation, but I got out there and trimmed them up and have been selling them ever since.”

He said they are a little more labor intensive than what he was first led to believe as not only do they have to be watered but also treated to make sure there is no fungus growing on the trees. The trees also have to be treated for mites several times a year.

But LaRue Hill said the last couple of years have been a real challenge, particularly the heat of 2011.

“Every year we plant about 200 trees to replace the ones we sell, but in 2011 we lost those plus about half the trees we planted the year before,” he said.

Whether it has been the weather or aging of Oklahoma Christmas tree farmers, there are fewer today than ever.

 

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