Moline tree farm faces flooding after dealing with drought

A Moline Christmas tree farmer is finding his fields go from drought to deluge in less than a year.

Rick Wyffels’ family has farmed along the Rock River for more than 60 years. But they’ve never seen a weather transition quite like this.

Just getting to his Christmas tree farm on Tuesday is an adventure.

“This is going to be bad,” he said.

With record flooding from the Rock River, the only way there is by boat.

“This is the highest water I’ve ever seen down here,” he said.

Nearly a quarter of his current crop is under water.

“We’ll just have to wait and see whether these trees make it or not,” he said.

Incredibly, there was a much different scene at his farm last July.

“It’s not getting any water,” he said.

Drought killed some 900 trees in the parched field.

“Look at that, it’s dust,” he said last year.

Surviving trees now face another foe, flood water.

“One year from a drought to a flood is just amazing,” he said.

After roasting in hot, dry weather, trees are nearly drowning in the river’s wrath.

That incredible contrast between drought and flooding seems to be more evidence of extreme weather, but Rick Wyffels is just going with the flow.

“You just have to deal with it and move on,” he said.

The toll on his trees is still astonishing, from one extreme to the next.

“You wouldn’t think this would happen one year after the other,” he said.

Weather becoming a real Grinch at this Christmas tree farm. If water drains quickly, it could save more trees. But if flooding lingers, it could lead to more tree troubles.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Rick concluded. “We’ll see how much we lose and go from there.”

Back in the boat, it’s a farming adventure still waiting for a happy ending.

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