Lee Co. Christmas tree farmer optimistic despite drought - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee Co. Christmas tree farmer optimistic despite drought

Busy Elves Christmas Tree Farm opened in 1987. (Source: WALB) Busy Elves Christmas Tree Farm opened in 1987. (Source: WALB)
Trees like the Leyland Cypress and Murray Cypress grow best in dry conditions. (Source: WALB) Trees like the Leyland Cypress and Murray Cypress grow best in dry conditions. (Source: WALB)
Dry conditions have affected the growth of trees at Busy Elves. (Source: WALB) Dry conditions have affected the growth of trees at Busy Elves. (Source: WALB)
Joedy Putnal (Source: WALB) Joedy Putnal (Source: WALB)
LEE CO., GA (WALB) -

Holidays are fast approaching and while many are dreaming of a white Christmas, what South Georgia really needs is a wet November. This year, it's not the Grinch who's trying to steal Christmas; it's the drought.

Dry conditions across South Georgia have made for a rough season for farmer Joedy Putnal. His business Busy Elves Christmas Tree Farm has been in Lee County for almost three decades, but this has been their driest season yet.

He grows four different varieties of trees on his farm, but its the Blue Ice and Carolina Sapphire trees that have suffered the most.

"These trees haven't changed much this year, because of the drought," Putnal said. "They haven't put out a lot of growth because they do like water."

Water is something those trees desperately need, but not all is bad. Fortunately, he also grows trees that don't like water. The Leyland Cypress and Murray Cypress trees actually thrive in drier conditions.

"Standing water will cause them to die," he said. "So I've done pretty well with that group."

Watering his trees is out of the question. Putnal is just letting Mother Nature take her course.

"There's no way. I've got five acres of trees and it would be difficult to set up an irrigation system for those."

Putnal strongly recommends using a watering system once a Christmas tree is cut and set up to ensure it's getting the water it needs.

"Trees are going to be real dry, and if you want that tree to be good throughout the winter, throughout the season, you're going to really need to keep water to it," he said. Dry trees can also pose a fire hazard.

Regardless of the drought's impact, Putnal says he's not worried about it hurting his bottom line. He's just looking forward to another busy season.

"I'm out here to serve people, not sell trees."

Putnal added that he's most worried about the end of December when he plants his seedlings. Without rain, the seedlings might not grow properly.

Busy Elves opens on Saturday at 10 a.m.

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