The dry summer has been fatal to many young Christmas trees, especially in Franconia. At Uwe Klug alone, Christmas tree producer in the Lower Franconian middle sense on the Bavarian-Hessian state border, around 95 percent of the 100,000 newly planted deciduous and coniferous trees did not survive due to a lack of water. “They dried up,” says the Christmas tree grower. Damage: more than a quarter of a million euros.
Farther south, the growers fared much better, says Thomas Emslander, chairman of the Association of Bavarian Christmas tree growers. “The new plants certainly suffered, but we don’t have any major failures south of the Danube.”
According to the Ministry of Forestry, around four million Christmas trees are sold in Bavaria every year, most of which come from specially cultivated trees. Around 400 growers are registered. The most popular with customers is the Nordmann fir, followed by the blue spruce.
“We kept hoping that it would rain from time to time. But it just didn’t rain. We’ve never had that dry here for so long,” says grower Klug. The family from the Spessartdorf Mittelsinn is the Christmas tree producer with the largest cultivation area in the Sinngrund – around 100 hectares – and has been in business for more than 50 years. Christmas tree production is an important branch of the economy in the region – there are around 30 Christmas tree producers in Mittelsinn alone. “They felt the same way,” says Klug, referring to the lack of water and the withered plants. The trees should have been harvested in eight to ten years. Other regions of Bavaria are also affected, but not as badly. “They broke maybe 50 percent.”
Christmas trees will cost about ten percent more
The soil in the Sinngrund is barren, sand and stones have always made farming difficult for the farmers in the village between Spessart and Rhön. Many have therefore opted for Christmas trees as a part-time job, because they are less demanding. According to Emslander, however, nobody needs to worry about this year’s Christmas tree – the older trees would have survived the drought largely unscathed. “The Nordmann fir comes from south-eastern Europe.” It can therefore deal well with spring and summer droughts. Their market share in Bavaria is 75 to 80 percent. The blue spruce could suffer even less from a lack of water.
According to Emslander, however, the Christmas tree will cost around ten percent more this year than last. “We’re also running out of costs everywhere.” A meter of Nordmann fir cost between 18 and 24 euros last year. The blue spruce is significantly cheaper – 19 euros to 25 euros for an almost two meter tall tree are possible this Christmas, it said.