UNDATED (WJON News) -- Soon it will be time for you to pick out your Christmas tree for the season.

John Krueger is the President of the Minnesota Christmas Tree Association. He says this year's drought has impacted the inventory of trees available in Minnesota.

With the drought the last couple of summers, the trees are alive and growing, but just not quite as much as we had hoped for.  So, instead of maybe an eight-foot tree this year it will be seven or seven-and-a-half. But certainly plenty of trees to go around.

Krueger says the trees that are one to three years old are the most susceptible to drought, once they reach three years their roots are deep enough to reach groundwater. He says they use mulch and wood chips to combat dry conditions.

As for which type of tree you might select for your home, he says most of us go for a good fir tree.

The most popular is still the firs, which is a short needle tree.  PInes are a long needle.  Pines are probably five percent of what's sold, the other 95 percent are firs.  Of the firs, Balsam firs, of course, is the classic native to Minnesota with a great smell.

He says a lot of people will be making a trip to their local farm as soon as this coming weekend.

Folks are coming out a lot sooner. Around the pandemic, people really wanted to come out and have those experiences outdoors. Really the first big weekend is this coming weekend followed by Thanksgiving weekend which of course is the biggest.  But, it used to be that Thanksgiving was the kick-off and then the next two weekends. The season has jogged forward a full week now.

Krueger says trees are not like cut flowers, he says if you want you can go pick out your tree now and wait a week to put it up and it will be fine.

He says if you go to a tree lot to buy your tree it is okay to ask the seller where it came from to make sure it was locally grown.

Krueger operates a Christmas Tree farm in Lake Elmo near Stillwater. It's a third-generation farm that was started in the 1950s.

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Krueger says they have between 75 and 100 farms in their association, with about a dozen new growers in the process of getting their first harvest done.

Minnesota ranks ninth for the most Christmas trees harvested annually.  It is about a $5.8 million-a-year industry.  Krueger says while their window for selling their product is just a short few weeks, the work is done year-round.


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