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Christmas Tree Troubles

LINN COUNTY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) Bruce Steele and his family have finding their Christmas tree down to a science. Its something they do in the same fields every year.

"Well aside from the tradition aspect of it, it's a family thing too, said Steele.

People like Matt Kirby, the Owner of Kirbys Tree Farm, make sure that tradition lasts. Sometimes that means fighting back against animals and diseases.

"This is where it would have came in, and this whole crop was all completely brown and dead, said Kirby.

Some trees on the farms were only planted about two years ago so they're not ready to be cut down yet. While they're resilient, some bad weather, or bad luck, can wipe out a whole year's worth of work.

"I lost about 90% of the 2000 I planted and every farm around the area that I know lost about everything, said Kirby.

That was thanks to last years drought. Other farms across the state have similar stories and more challenges away from the field. Owners like Mary Rose, from Wagners Christmas Trees, are retiring.

Well I'm at the age I should be retired, 85? she said while laughing.

But she doesnt have anyone to take the business over.

"Can't get the young people interested in it, I think, said Rose.

Kirby is the exception to the rule. Hes taking over for his retiring parents. He says its still mostly a family business, employing relatives and friends during the weeks when extra help is needed the most.

But when owners do decide to call it quits, Kirby says, most places will just sell if they cant keep it in the family.

That sometimes means farms closing, giving families like the Steeles fewer options.
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