OWASSO, Okla. — Bill Jacobs knows everything you need to know about Christmas trees. He grows 22,000 of them on seven fields over 5-year cycles on the Owasso Tree and Berry farm.
Bill and his wife Paula have owned their tree and berry farm business for 42 years.
“Make make sure you know how big a space you have to put them in because they seem to grow when you get them home,” he says, “They look nice here out in the field. But then look at the shape of the tree, make sure it’s nice and fresh [by] bending the needles. If the needles bend and don’t break, it’s nice and fresh. Make sure it doesn’t have a lot of dead limbs and leaves around it, inside of it and the shape that you like.” On the day before Thanksgiving last year, Bill says he sold about 180 trees. He hoped to top that on Wednesday.
But this year’s drought changes things. “The highest bill we ever paid for water up until this summer is $1,000 a month. This summer, our water bill for 3 months in a row was $2,000. We used over a half million gallons of water 3 months in a row - July, August, and September because it was so dry. We lost a lot of seedlings because of the drought.”
He says he lost hundreds of trees this year because of the high temperatures. What is his highest producing field lost 20% of its harvest.
But even the high costs of water, lost seedlings and lost harvest, Jacobs did not raise his prices.
He says business is always busy on the farm and in the Christmas shop.
In one month, Jacobs says, he sells out of all of his inventory in most years, and he expects to again this year.
“Just [because of] all the people that come into our shop and all the new people moving into Owasso,” he said, “And all the new homes being built. Last year, we had people come in that built new homes and spent $2,300 just to decorate their new home. So, it doesn’t take a lot of those folks to add up.”
And hopefully make up for his losses this year.
Jacobs grows three types of trees on the farm. The Virginia Pine, which is a full and sheared tree.
The Leland Cypress is a hybrid tree. “It has no seed, no bloom, and no pollen. It’s only reproduced by cutting, so take a branch off, root it and that’s how we buy it, the rooted cutting. And then we grow them in a one-gallon pot for about 6 months. And then we plant them in the ground.” The third type of tree the Jacobs grow on the farm is a Carolina Sapphire.
It is the most fragrant of the three types and Jacobs says it will give your entire living room a fragrance.
On the day before Thanksgiving, customers were arriving at the farm even before it opened.
Richard Needham and his family came from Coweta to get a Christmas tree and he chose the perfect one within a few minutes.
His children liked the color and his wife liked that it would fit in the house.
“That’s the reason,” he said, “I just mainly let them pick it out. I told them, ‘Let’s go cut one down this year.’ That’ll be pretty fun,” he said, “We’re going to go home, cook Turkey and set it up.”
And with that consensus, they cut it down and took it home.
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