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Christmas Tree Farm Bouncing Back From Drought

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FLETCHER, Okla._

Black Friday has come and gone, but while many people may have checked off their Christmas lists, they are still searching for that perfect tree to tuck them under.

With the droughts the past couple of years across Southwest Oklahoma, many tree farms have closed and gone out of business. But for those who have managed to survive, they say they're still able to provide families with a Christmas tree this holiday season.

In Fletcher,  Larue Hill of D & L Christmas Trees is as dedicated as it comes to growing the perfect  tree.

And while the drought has undoubtedly taken a toll on Hill's  trees this year, he says he's happy to say he's still going strong.

In 1988 Larue Hill was retiring from his third careers. He's been in the military, worked for Goodyear and finally the Elgin School District. He knew he would need something to keep him busy, so after seeing an ad about Christmas tree farming he decided to give it a try.

Hill said, "Well when we started out, the first year we probably sold, we probably sold 12 trees."

Since then he's seen his business grow. He says they sell around 200 trees ever year, and gets lots of new as well as returning customers.

He said in 1988 there were over 90 Christmas tree farmers in the state, but now only a handful, "The problem being is there's not a lot of money to be made in Christmas trees. Although a lot of people seem to think there is."

And of course the weather in this part of the world is anything but cooperative. The horrible drought last year took out a third of his crop, and he's still feeling the heat this year.

 "We would have probably had another 100 trees that would a been sellable this year had not the droughts come along."

He plants around 200 new trees every January and tends to them year round. And even though it's hard work, he's not complaining.

 "It keeps me out of the house. I'm retired, so I retired military, and I retired from the school system so I don't like to around and watch TV."

Hill and his wife love the Christmas holidays, and now that their kids are all grown, they said it wouldn't be the holidays without their favorite part of their line of work...

 "Watching' the kids come out. we have a couple of families here in the area that have 8 or 9 children and they all come out and they're just, they're all stair stepped and they're really fun to watch."

Hill said in order to ensure your tree survives the holiday season, make sure to water it and that there's no need for any fancy solutions or plant food.

D&L Christmas Trees and Wreaths is open for business until Christmas Eve.

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