Severe drought across the east coast and southern parts of Australia has hit Christmas tree farmers, with many growers finding it hard to keep their crops alive for this festive season and fearing that the younger trees will take years to recover.
The affected farmers are scrambling to keep the trees alive as summer in the Southern Hemisphere heats up, with some suppliers accepting only walk-in customers and stopping deliveries of what is an essential Christmas decoration for many families, local media reported on Saturday.
"They have gotten past that point of any tolerance that we had to be out there by hand and watering and going to irrigation just to try and save the saplings and some of the older trees this year," Henry Saundry, a farmer from South Australia told the ABC news channel.
It could take at least two to three years for the younger trees to recover at his farm south of state capital Adelaide due to the dry conditions, Henry said.
Large swathes of Australia's agricultural regions have been struggling under record drought conditions this year, with the national bureau of meteorology forecasting hot and dry weather continuing into next year.
Another farmer from South Australia, Kim Kemeny, told the channel that he previously moved all of his Christmas trees from the Coromandel Valley to the Clarendon area due to higher rainfall but that has since changed.
"This year I planted 120 saplings and only 20 of them survived. You can see how dry the soil is and there's no moisture," Kim said.