Christmas is only three weeks away, which means that thousands of Americans are now searching for that perfect tree.
This year, the most popular kind of live trees is under attack by mold.
On tree farms across the nation, it has not been the most wonderful time of the year.
Jeff Pollard, a tree farmer, said, “Didn’t expect it to be quite this severe this fast.”
Pollard has been growing Fraser Firs for four decades.
This Christmas, a water mold called “phytophtora,” which flourishes because of heavy rain, is crippling business.
Pollard fears that a quarter of his trees are gone.
He said, “It kills the root system on the tree and they can’t take up water.”
In North Carolina, the problem is costing the industry an estimated $6 million to $8 million a year.
Experts say it could affect how much you pay for a tree down the road.
The mold isn’t impacting everyone across the nation.
Families are still tracking down the Christmas tree that is just right for their home.
Researchers are trying to genetically modify Fraser Firs to withstand the mold.
Some growers are planting other, more resistant, species.
John Frampton, with the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, said, “It is a major problem for Christmas tree growers. And because they lose money on the trees that become sick and die, those costs in some way are passed on to the consumers.”
Pollard just hopes his trees make a comeback before it is too late.
Most tree farms across Oklahoma City are not experiencing the mold problem, even on Fraser Firs.