Local Christmas Tree Farmer; ‘Not Sure If We Will Have Supply This Year, It Depends’

Nico Payne

As fires continue to rage in Northern California, the unbearable heat is one factor that is not only contributing to fire danger but also killing crops and inventory.

One local Christmas tree farm that supplies part of the Coachella Valley with trees every year is in danger of losing its supply.

The Aerni family has been growing Christmas trees and selling them in the desert for the past 65 years, but says this holiday season may be less cheerful depending on how the rest of the summer plays out.

“It’s not unusual for one day of 100 degrees every ten years or something but we had four days in the hundreds and a couple of those days were 116,” said Verlyn Aerni III, Co-owner of Aerni Family Christmas Trees.

For those of us in the desert, 116 is normal. For people in Oregon, it is not, and the extreme heat is killing Christmas tree crops. 

“It just burnt everything, I mean from our Christmas trees, the new babies are pretty much all wiped out and the second year babies, I mean I don’t know that they are going to make it,” explained Aerni

Oregon officials issued warnings as over 60 people have died due to the record-breaking heat.

“We know a risk factor for a heat-related illness and death is social isolation, so sadly these deaths may be people that are yet to be discovered,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County Health Officer.

The Aerni family faced a tough year last year, having to be evacuated due to wildfires. This year they were hoping for a bit of relief.

“We had the beachy creek fire and the alliance head fire converge on our little town. That was last year and we had to evacuate for three weeks not knowing, we had heard that we had lost all of our trees to the fire,” said Aerni.

And as far as the Aerni family trees returning to the Coachella Valley this next holiday season, they say it all depends on how hot the rest of the summer is and if their Christmas crop can withstand the heat.

“We might be able to clip some of it out, it will be so labor-intensive, but kind of clip it out, the trees will still be really healthy but it just depends on our late season sun,” added Aerni.

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