Local Christmas tree growers impacted by Sandy
by James Howell
Two weeks ago, the “perfect storm” Hurricane Sandy tore through the eastern United States, which may cause a perfect storm of problems for Christmas tree growers in Ashe county.
Ashe County Christmas tree growers weren’t just affected by Superstorm Sandy’s snowfall locally, but also by the destruction left in the hurricane’s wake in the northeast.
According to agriculture extension agent Travis Birdsell, several buyers from New Jersey, along with other northeastern states, have canceled their orders for Christmas trees after the destruction cause by Sandy.
Birdsell said the effects of a storm the size of Sandy can have a far-reaching impact on the distribution of goods. “That’s one of those things people forget about natural disasters.”
“When your home has been destroyed, buying a Christmas tree moves to the back of your mind,” said Birdsell.
Birdsell said Christmas tree distributors in parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia were hit hard by the storm.
According to Birdsell, some farms in Ashe were impacted by the storm as well. “We had a foot of snow near Whitetop, and that could impact a few farms here in the county,” said Birdsell.
Birdsell said Christmas tree farmers always plan a few contingency days encase things go wrong, but this year, those spare days have already been used up by several growers because of the early snowfall.
According to Birdsell, farmers and their employees will need to “work rain or shine” in order to keep pace with the a schedule moving forward.
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