Customers are cutting down one of some 2,000 trees at Rick Wyffels’ farm in Moline. It’s a ritual worth repeating.
“Picking out the shape, the smell and the color,” said customer Tonya Roman, Rock Island.
“The majority of these trees are in really good shape,” Wyffels said.
It’s something of a miracle. Record flooding in April left nearly a quarter of his crop under water.
“This is the highest I’ve ever seen it down here,” he said at the time.
And in the summer of 2012, just the opposite.
“Look at the soil,” he gestured. “That is dust.”
Drought killed some 900 trees in the parched field.
“One year from a drought to a flood is just amazing,” he said.
From drought to deluge, the Wyffels Tree Farm is emerging from extreme weather. And now, the 2013 crop is ready for Christmas.
After growing Christmas trees for some 20 years, Wyffels learned a lot about patience. It can take a decade to raise a Christmas tree.
Spring flooding claimed about 40 trees this year, and the impact from the drought still stings.
“The brown will start working up to the top,” he demonstrated. “The whole tree will be brown, and then we’ll have to cut it out.”
But through this incredible contrast, they’re surviving another season.
“It’s too expensive to buy insurance, so we just deal with it,” he said. “And if they don’t make it, we’ll just replant them.”
It’s kind of like shaking off the wicked weather to celebrate.
“It reminds me of when I was younger,” Roman said. “We play music. We have cocoa, and we make cookies.”
At Wyffels Tree Farm, it’s definitely a happy harvest this year.
Trees cost between $4-7 per foot.
You’ll find the farm at 3319 North Shore Drive in Moline. Weekday hours run from 4-6 and from 9-5 on weekends.