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SLIM PICKINS': Drought kills Christmas trees

December 11, 2012

Post & Mail photo / Nicole Ott Austin Nix (left), 3, and Jackson Smith, 8, of Big Lake, went with their grandparents to Devil’s 40 Christmas tree farm in Churubusco. Parched ground (in the background) caused the farm to lose 2,000 trees in the summer of 2012’s drought.

CHURUBUSCO — While much of the area has forgotten about the summer’s drought, a local tree farm is still feeling the heat.

Devil’s 40 Tree Farm, owned by Art and Jacqueline Tilbury of Churubusco, lost approximately 2,000 Douglas-Fir trees to the record-breaking temperatures in summer 2012.

With the 7-year-old trees priced between $45 and $75, the farm has lost upwards of $150,000. The Tilburys aren’t new to the business, as Jacqueline said the farm has been around for more than 35 years.
Devil’s 40 isn’t the only tree farm in Indiana that has suffered this year. A farm in Bloomington lost 10 percent of its 45-acre farm.

Purdue’s Extension Service said Indiana’s climate change is altering many growing zones, pushing certain Christmas tree species out of the area. This season marks the Tilbury’s final year in the business — not due to the weather, but for personal reasons.

The couple is retiring from its successful business that, according to Jacqueline, has hauled in more customers each season. The Tilbury’s aren’t the only tree farm in the area to shut down — the 2013 season will also be the last for the Pines of Leo, near Auburn.

For a more in depth look at this story, see the Dec. 11 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.

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