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Climate Change Impacts on Christmas Tree Production in the Midwestern Region
Michigan Ag Connection - 02/28/2024

Josh Bendorf, USDA Midwest Climate Hub; Bill Lindberg, Michigan State University Extension; Bert Cregg, Department of Horticulture and Forestry, Michigan State University; Deborah McCullough, Department of Entomology, Michigan State University; Gary Chastagner, Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University; Laurie Nowatzke, USDA Midwest Climate Hub; Dennis Todey, USDA Midwest Climate Hub; Sophia Parker, USDA Midwest Climate Hub

Christmas trees are a widely grown crop across the Upper Midwest (Figure 1). Christmas tree production statistics for Midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin) from the 2022 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Agricultural Statistics Service Census of Agriculture (Quick Stats)1 indicate:

4,284 farms produce Christmas trees (see Figure 1a for farm distribution by county).

Christmas trees are grown on over 73,000 acres (Figure 1b).

Over 4 million trees are annually harvested, accounting for $81 million in revenue.

Christmas trees, like all crops, are susceptible to challenges caused by a changing climate. Currently observed changes and projected future changes will affect Christmas tree production in unique ways and producers may need to consider different practices to mitigate climate-related problems. This bulletin will discuss climate trends, expected impacts for Christmas tree production, and potential methods to mitigate these challenges.

Climate Trends

The data and trends provided in this section are a synopsis of observed changes (1979-2021) and modeled projections across the Midwest. The following assessments reflect climate models’ projected values in mid-century (2040-2059), based on a climate scenario with emissions increasing over time without substantial reductions (RCP 8.5)2,3. Projected values are compared against the 1979-2005 averages.

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