BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — It’s starting to feel more like Christmas, with cooler temperatures this week, but it hasn’t been an easy year, Fish River Trees owner Steve Mannhard said.

Fish River Trees’ difficult summer

“The word ‘challenge’ is a good one,” said Mannhard, who has grown Christmas trees on his Summerdale farm since 1981. “It was very difficult this summer. (The trees) didn’t like the heat at all. That 100-degree and 80-degree night, they stopped growing.”

Mannhard says he’s never experienced a drought like this in the farm’s 42 years — and the extreme heat and lack of rain have taken a toll on his business.

“When it really gets bad, you can’t get it out of your mind. ‘Where is the rain? I wonder if it’s going to rain today.’ You watch the weather at 5:30 a.m. in the morning and you just shake your head. ‘Is it ever going to rain again?’ And I’m still thinking that now,” he said.  

He says most of his trees stopped growing for several months, but around September he noticed a change.

“If you really look at them you can see brand new growth,” Mannhard added.

Fish River Trees schedules re-opening

Even though lower temps have replaced the heat, he’s still having to water the trees with sprinklers and hoses to make sure they’re ready for customers when Fish River Trees officially opens on Nov. 18.

But, Mannhard says, the challenges are worth it in the end.

“When the kids hit this farm, you can just see their faces light up and they start running up and down these rows and they just have a ball,” he said.

This year, taller trees will be harder to find, but if you’re looking for one under 8 feet, you’re in luck.


Fish River Trees will open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving Day.