Drought puts damper on tree farmers' Christmas

NEW CANEY, Texas (AP) - A devastating drought in the Southwest has killed thousands of Christmas trees in Texas and Oklahoma, leaving many farmers with little to offer holiday shoppers.

Many trees died of thirst. Hundreds of others burned in wildfires. Most farmers say nearly all their youngest trees died, meaning the drought's effect will still be felt five years from now, when the saplings would have reached maturity.

Some farmers are importing trees from North Carolina. Others are resigned to selling fewer trees. Some have shutdown.

And despite their losses, most say they can't raise prices in the weak economy to make up the difference.

Trees will still sell for $40 to $50, but families hoping for a homegrown evergreen to cut down will have a harder time finding one.

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