MidWest Tallies the Cost of Drought on Area’s Tree Canopy and Economy

Kansas City, MO (August 17, 2012) – Local foresters estimate Kansas City will lose about 7,000 trees this year—up about 30% from last year. Some estimate the cost to Kansas and Missouri is a combined one billion trees, although other estimates are less dire. Watering is able to save some trees, but the area’s conifer and deciduous trees appear doomed without some rain.  And given a strapped economy, cities are unlikely to be able to afford planting replacements, leaving shade trees spotty in most urban areas.  And for newly-planted Christmas trees across the Midwest, perhaps only a third will survive—another blow to local economies.

Newly-planted trees in many Midwestern cities are stressed to the breaking point after this year’s unrelenting drought, which comes on the heels of previous years with long dry stretches.

Foresters, city officials, businesses, and homeowners are watching large swaths of urban forest go from green to brown.  While many trees have already turned to fall colors and shed their leaves, some are still able to be saved and with water and attention could still bud in the spring.

In Tree City Overland Park, KS, with more than 26,000 trees, city workers are scrambling to keep newly planted trees watered in hopes of saving most of the tree canopy.  The drought is affecting some tree species more than others, with evergreens suffering most as they are largely non-native and may display few warning signs until they are near dying.

Christmas tree farmers in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and many other drought-stricken  states are seeing their young evergreens nearly wiped out, with those spared expected to be smaller in size.

More mature trees are likely to survive, but at Christmas time in the years to come customers are likely to pay a higher price with a much smaller selection.  White pines and Canaan firs have also been hit hard. The cost to tree famers is thousands of dollars.

Related Resources:
Drought Transforms Trees from Green to Brown to Gone (Missouri and Indiana)
Trees Hit Hard by Dry and Hot Weather (South Dakota and Nebraska)
Christmas Trees Feeling Effects of Drought
Christmas Trees Falling Victim to the Drought