Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm rebounds from drought

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by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News and Photojournalist SCOTT GUEST

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on November 24, 2013 at 11:56 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 12:00 AM

ELGIN, Texas -- After years battling the drought, a Central Texas business is beating the odds. The Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm will open its fields for the holidays this week.

Owners Marc and Twyla Nash could see their fields from the family’s home balcony at the farm. There are rows of deep, green Virginia Pines. It’s a far different view from what the family saw just months ago.

“They were puny looking,” said Twyla. The drought hit their farm hard.

“The first couple of years, you think, 'This is a one-time deal,'” said Nash. However, the drought stretched on, and the toll it took on these crops grew.

“From 2009 to 2011 we were just surviving, and we were just glad if the trees were alive,” said Nash.

For a couple of years, the Nash family lost between 30 and 40 percent of their new crops. The drought forced other Christmas tree farms in the state to close. Twyla and Marc stayed determined to keep their farm alive.

“It's a big gamble. You're just kind of throwing the dice and hoping it rains,” said Nash. “We had to get pretty creative.”

It took watering their trees by hand to get them to grow. When the drought first hit in 2009, the trees in the field now were just beginning to grow. Twyla, Marc and their children pulled a rolling sprinkler across the entire field, watering one row of trees at a time.

“At that time we were getting up at six in the morning watering them; all our children, the whole bit,” Twyla said. “Now with the rains the last two years, they are looking beautiful, so it feels like all of our hard work has paid off.”

It wasn't until a couple of months ago that Marc realized he could no longer see through the trees. They were growing and filling in.

“Much fuller, healthier looking trees. We have more height on the trees this year,” said Nash.

Most of the trees at the Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm now stand between six and seven feet. The taller trees are still hard to come by. They simply aren't strong enough to grow much more.

The Nash family said they plan to bring in larger trees from northern states. However, for the first time in years, they expect most buyers will be able to pick and cut from their own fields. The farm expects to sell about 4,000 trees this season.

The fields open the day after Thanksgiving. Go here for more information.

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