East Alabama Christmas tree farmer overcoming hits from drought

East Alabama Christmas tree farmer overcoming hits from drought

LANETT, AL (WTVM) - It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but certainly not feeling like it with the dry and warm conditions some areas are seeing well into November.

The lack of rain has taken a particular toll on Christmas tree farmers in Georgia and Alabama, by stunting tree growth and killing some trees altogether.

However, the Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm in Lanett isn't letting the problems stop them from having a hearty season.

The Gilbert family has still felt the effects of this regional drought, saying they've lost about 100 baby trees. Despite the hit to their future harvest, they're gearing up to open on Saturday, fully stocked with healthy trees that made it through.

While about 100 of the infant Christmas tree plants will never fulfill their Christmas tree destiny, the older one's in the fields are also feeling the effects of hot Alabama days and little rainfall, despite being tougher and still thriving.

"The trees that are out in the field, we don't have any irrigation here. So there is no way it irrigates those, and basically what the drought has done for us on those trees, is we didn't get the growth we would have normally gotten in September and October," said Ray Gilbert.

Despite the problems, Gilbert says his farm has been around for nearly 30 years, and they're not letting mother nature shut them down now.

"I don't know if that means I was stubborn, dumb, or what, but we've hung in there and enjoy doing it," said Gilbert.

The family is gearing up for their big season opener on Saturday and say there are plenty of healthy trees to go around. To combat the hot days like Friday, they're lining already cut trees along on rack, with tubs that will soon be filled with water, to quench their thirst.

"The tree is going to drink a lot of water the first week that you put it up, because of how dry it has been," said Gilbert.

You can see hours of operation and directions to the Gilbert Christmas Tree Farm by clicking here.

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