Fungus Infects Christmas Trees Throughout USA - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Fungus Infects Christmas Trees Throughout USA

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OKEMOS, Mich. (WLNS) - A tree fungus is infecting Christmas tree growers from Oregon to North Carolina and now it's here in mid-Michigan.

"The problem is phytopthora root rot," said Mel Koeling, with Tannenbaum Farms.

It's native to Michigan, but tree farmers are having an especially tough time with it this year. "We haven't had a serious phytopthora problem in many many years. This year is by far the most severe. And it's because it's wet," said Koeling.

He says this year's especially wet spring left some areas of his farm flooded and the phytopthora spreads through water.

Trees that are infected are easy to identify, as they turn red, as pictured at left.

The fungus can affect trees of any age and size, but unfortunately, his most popular type of tree is the most at risk. "Fraser fir represents about 90 percent of our sales, we simply cannot grow enough of those," he says, pointing to one that's already infected.

But Koeling plans for this every year. "So far, it hasn't gotten to the point where it really has affected us, but we always plant more trees than we sell every year," he says.



If the crop loss is big enough, they'll bring in extra trees they buy whole sale, so as to always be stocked this time of year.


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