Michigan Christmas tree farmers lack cheer in snow
Allegan – — Frigid temperatures and heavy snow are posing challenges to wholesale Christmas tree growers in Michigan as they try to ship out their final tree orders.
Most growers in the state are dealing with “long hours and cold employees,” Michigan Christmas Tree Association director Marsha Gray told MLive.com.
“We have to get the job done, Christmas isn’t going to wait for us to get the trees to market,” said Ken Wahmhoff of Wahmhoff Farms Nursery in Gobles. “We’ll find a way.”
Wahmhoff said his employees were working in more than a foot of snow Wednesday. This week is “all about shipping trees,” he said, but about 20 people skipped work and a truck didn’t show up.
“My guess is they looked out the window and said, ‘I’m going back to bed.’ They don’t feel the urge to come in if they don’t like the way it looks outside,” he said.
The snow is also hampering the ability of his workers to get outside and harvest more trees, according to Wahmhoff.
Snow accumulation is causing problems at Badger Evergreen in Allegan as well. Trucks have had trouble reaching the farm’s loading yards in the snow. Kevin Mohrland, one of the owners, said the weather has made conditions so miserable that he didn’t really feel like talking about it.
“We are very far behind, and we have many trucks to load,” Mohrland said.
Some of the Christmas tree growers further inland, in Cadillac and Lake City, weren’t quite as affected by the wintry weather, according to Gray.
“I think they had the majority of their trees in the yard, but of course trees in the loading yards are covered with snow,” she said.
Some tree retail lots open this weekend, but most sales kick off the day after Thanksgiving.
Michigan harvests about 3 million trees each year, ranking third in the nation for Christmas tree production.