Growing Christmas Trees in Eastern Iowa

Growing Christmas Trees in Eastern Iowa
Published: Dec. 3, 2022 at 10:51 AM CST
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Eastern Iowa (KCRG) - Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it’s finally socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music, decorate your house, and purchase your Christmas tree.

Even though it’s been dry this year, tree farms say there were plenty of trees to go around.

The smell of pine trees, ready to decorate with lights and ornaments, is an iconic tradition to celebrate the season.

Jacob Dohmen, son of Frank Dohmen, owner of the Dohmen Christmas Tree Farm in Mechanicsville, grew up caring for the beloved trees.

“We first started selling Christmas Trees when I was a teenager, and a lot of the people that were in school with me or that I knew when I was younger, now they’re having families just like me, and you know, we’re, we’re kind of passing it on to the next generation and starting our tradition too,” Dohmen recalled.

Farmers like Mark Banowetz, owner of Cedar’s Edge Evergreen Market in Ely, also work hard all year, starting with spring planting.

“In March, April is when we start putting the trees in the ground, all the seedlings. Those are typically, um, usually about two-year-old seedling, maybe a two or three-year-old seedling, they might only be 14 inches tall.” Banowetz explained.

The weather plays a crucial role in the evergreens’ health, and dry summers can lead to brutal winters.

“Basically, you think of a tree as kind of like a straw, it’s drawing moisture up through the ground, and if there’s no moisture in the ground at some point, the moisture is lost out of the tree, so we get winter desiccation, which means the needles here will actually turn brown.” Dohmen described.

Christmas trees take several years to grow. Therefore, dry conditions in previous years can contribute to shortages.

“Mainly like in 2020, there was, kind of the Midwest in general kind of had a crazy spring weather where it warmed up, and then it froze, so there are Christmas tree growers or the seedling growers that lost all their crop because of that weather issues,” Dohmen remembered.

Even though Iowa has had a fairly dry year and some farms have suffered, Banowetz says this past spring was perfect for his trees.

“This year was exceptional. A year with the rain in the spring, we had nice rain, it was kind of staggered out, we had good heat, we didn’t have real, real hot days. You know, we had a few hot days but not a continuous month-long of high temperatures, so our seedlings did not dry out this year.” Banowetz said.

Working hard to share a legacy.

“There’s something maybe magical about coming out to a farm and getting a Christmas tree together and creating those memories.” Banowetz illustrated.

That not only lights homes but also hearts with Christmas Spirit.