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20. 05. 12. - 11:11

Frost decimates Austrian Xmas tree harvest

Xmas trees will be in short supply this year after a late frost that hit parts of Europe at the weekend was reported to have caused hundreds of millions of pounds worth of damage to young trees.

A spokesman for the Austrian Association of Christmas Tree Growers, Franz Raith, said: "The young trees had just started with their spring growth, but the frost has killed all of that off. Between 20 and 40 per cent of the trees will not be able to recover. Most farmers will be lucky to cover their costs this year - many will not survive."

He said the only way to save the damaged trees where the new spring growth had now turned brown would be to cut off the part damaged by the frost, but this was enormously labour intensive.

Herbert Haslinger, a Xmas tree farmer from Unterpfaffendorf, said: "The damage is so severe that we will either have to give up, or cut back on the area of forest we harvest."

Raith said: "In the region of lower Austria alone we are talking about a loss of hundreds of millions of euros. That will mean it is about three to four years before farmers make a profit again."

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