SUMMERDALE, Ala. (WKRG) – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Steve Mannhard’s tree farm in Summerdale. The busy holiday season starts this week.
“You’ve got to flip the farm from a regular agricultural operation to all of a sudden a retail store and there’s this huge list of things you’ve got to do to make that happen,” said Mannhard, owner of Fish River Trees.
Fish River Trees opens Saturday and while there are plenty of trees to choose from, anything taller than 9ft. is tough to find on the farm this year. Mannhard blames the weather.
“It was the rainiest July and August we’ve ever experienced. We had over 30 inches of rain those two months and it just didn’t stop,” he explained.
A dry October didn’t help. The smaller trees, which typically can grow up to 4ft. a year, have struggled
“We lost some baby trees in October. The top part of the ground got so dried out that they just didn’t get enough water and I can’t irrigation way out there,” said Mannhard.
Over 5,000 trees were sold last year, and despite the weather challenges this year, he expects a busy season after a quick rebound.
“Fortunately, the trees that have been in the ground a while that doesn’t seem to bother them and they’re drought-resistant,” he continued.
Mannhard purchased dozens of fir trees this year to fill the voids on the farm. He also has Murray Cypress trees in buckets ready for opening weekend. It’s been a busy year, but after more than 40 years in the business, he knows how to bounce back.
“It was interesting. It had challenges, as usual. It’s farming,” he said.
Fish River Trees will be open through Dec. 23. Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally their busiest time of the season. Keep in mind the farm will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.