Central Texas Christmas tree farm forced to close cutting lot due to drought

KWTX News 10 at 10P
Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 6:00 PM CST
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MERIDIAN, Texas (KWTX) - The Radde Tannenbaum Farm has been spreading holiday cheer for decades.

“We planted our first trees in 1986,” co-owner Kenneth Radde said.

Due to the drought the Christmas trees at the farm didn’t grow tall enough. Most of them only reached 4 to 5-feet tall, too short to sell. So the fields for cutting trees are closed this year.

“There were so many cracks in the ground that when the water went in it probably went well past the roots in those deep cracks,” said Kathy Radde, Kenneth’s wife and co-owner of the farm.

The growth was stunted because of the lack of rain.

“They could survive on maybe 12 inches of rainfall,” Kenneth said. “They need about 25 inches to thrive.”

The Christmas trees take about five years to reach full growth and the drought could cause some issues further down the road.

“We planted about 16,000 seedlings this spring and if we have 400 left it’s going to be a wonder,” Kathy said.

So this year, Kathy and Kenneth are only selling pre-cut Christmas trees shipped in from a farm in North Carolina.

“A lot of times families come in and they’re wanting that experience of their child sawing down the Christmas tree,” Kathy said. “Pre-cut Frasers don’t seem to always replace that experience.”

This isn’t the first time there’s been trouble at the tree farm. In 2020 a pest called “spider mite” got to hundreds of the trees. Then last year the winter freeze hurt the growth. But in the end, the customers make it all worth it.

“There’s probably no direct to customer business where the customers tend to be as happy as they are at Christmas,” Kenneth said.

But going forward, the Radde Tannenbaum Farm are keeping their spirits bright.

“With all the rain we’ve had lately, we have a positive feeling about next year,” Kathy said.