Drought causes plant deaths at Christmas tree farm, business still booming


JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Over the past few weeks thousands of acres of brush have burned across our region.

The recent drought is putting a bit of a damper on some Christmas tree farms.

The Roan Valley Tree Farm in Johnson City has over 25,000 Christmas trees on their property but this year was a little different.

Employees tell News Channel 11 the lack of rain has killed thousands of plants but customers are still piling in to continue their Christmas traditions.

Austin Ayers has worked at The Roan Valley Tree Farm his whole life.

“Oh it’s amazing,” Austin Ayers said.

He said he’s never seen a year this dry. “They just kind of deteriorate; you can break it real easy,” Austin Ayers said.

The decades old family business lost nearly 75% of the trees planted this spring.

Dozens of fires across our region over the past few months aren’t helping.

“We’ve had droughts before but this one but this one is probably a little worse,” Owner, Walter Ayers said.

Ayers said business is going smooth and the more established trees are doing okay despite the dry conditions.

“If they get their growth before the dry weather comes then there’s not much damage assuming they get enough rainfall,” Walter Ayers said.

Austin Ayers said they’ve worked hard to try to do everything right as they deal with the drought.

The Taylor family from Johnson City came out for the day to pick their Christmas tree but Sarah Taylor said she thought they were closed at first.

“At first we were like, are they doing it this year?” Sarah Taylor said.

Sarah Taylor said they have noticed less trees during their visit this year but are still hoping for the best.

“It’s sad, I hate it, I mean I know that we’ve had a really dry season but it’s hard to believe it affected it this much,” Sarah Taylor said.

Wayne Ayers said they want to get a head start for next year to make sure their Christmas trees come to life.

“I just want people to come out and buy a good fresh Christmas tree,” Wayne Ayers said.

Wayne Ayers said we hopes to start planting as early as this month or early next year to get a head start, ahead of any bad weather coming up next year.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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