Okanagan Christmas tree farm loses half of seedlings during summer heat wave | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan Christmas tree farm loses half of seedlings during summer heat wave

This little tree was scorched by the summer's heat wave.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Tom Turner

A Lake Country Christmas tree farmer says this summer’s scorching heat caused the death of nearly half of his supply of new seedlings.

Tom Turner, with the u-pick Turner Family Tree Farm, said 200 of his 500 seedlings planted in the spring died because of the unprecedented heatwave.

The heat also scalded other trees, and Turner isn't sure if they'll recover, particularly those that aren't native to the region, he said.

Some that have their tips scorched will likely return to normal but won't be sellable this year, he said.

READ MORE: One more day of the heat wave pushes Okanagan and Canadian records even higher

“It was pretty exceptional this year," he said. "If that goes on year after year, we’ll have to adapt our agricultural practices to meet what’s happening."

This year, since the trees were destroyed, there’s some expenses that need to be recouped next year with replanting.

The farm primarily grows douglas fir, concolour white fir, Fraser fir and Scots pine.

Turner’s isn’t the only farm that was impacted by the heatwave.

Jolene Palmer, a member with the Thompson Okanagan Christmas Tree Association, said tree farms on the coast have seen a lot of heat damage.

“There will be a shortage of trees this year probably but they will recover,” she said, adding some badly burned stock likely won't.

There are about 30 tree farms in the Interior and they’re small, u-pick operations, she said. 

“There’s not going to be as many on the u-cut farms as there were last year,” she said.

It’s a seven- to eight-year process to grow Christmas trees.

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