STARKE COUNTY – While cacti blossom, just inches away foresters at Hensler Nursery have found ways for their trees to thrive, but some of the trees here are struggling without rain.
WSBT'S John Paul walked the fields of the nursery with forester Scott Heeren. Heeren pointed out Christmas trees in various stages of stress.
"This tree is basically done growing," said Heeren. "That's all it put on this year because of the drought."
Larger or mature trees are under a lot of stress, and fairly new plantings are dying.
"We haven't seen it this bad in probably 30 years," said Heeren. "The spring was tough. It was a hot, dry spring.The plants started to grow early, then the drought came. Just been a series of setbacks."
Setbacks that hurt future trees and their profits.
Heeren toured a field of smaller trees. He said the drought places the stress on smaller trees first, because their root systems have not established themselves like larger trees.
One example is the frasier fir.
"They haven't faired very well with the drought," said Heeren.
The seedlings are expensive to plant.
"Basically with the frasier fir, we've lost everything we've planted the last 3 years," said Heeren.
"The trees are just not well-equipped when you have droughts like this," he said.
It's a mixed bag in the field but also in the forest. The leaves fell off a sassafras. It's one of the reasons why foresters are worried.
"We got our fingers crossed that maybe we'll get some rain, maybe this weekend," said Heeren.