''Slim pickings'' is how one local Christmas tree provider describes this year's ''O Tannenbaum'' crop.
'"Everybody's been talking about how bad the drought was,'' said Don DeWitt, of Lakeside Pines in rural Hillsdale. ''We did get hurt, but not real bad. Some of our trees are holding up real good.''
Burn's Tree Farm in rural East Moline wasn't as lucky.
'"The drought wiped us out,'' Mike Burns said. "We're not open.''
He said it probably will be two years before he reopens for yuletide tree hunters, and it's the first time he's had to close in the 15 years he's been in business.
Mark Anderson, of Richland Grove Tree Farm, in Lynn Center, said it's "slim pickings," although the trees he has are in good shape, ''but I'm a little short of certain varieties of firs.''
Business at Voltz Tree Farm, in rural Geneseo, has been so brisk that owners closed for the season Friday night. But not because of drought-related reasons, but because ''we're sold out,'' Sue Voltz said.
That's not unusual at the Voltz farm, she said. '"This is our 11th or 12th year, and there's been only one time we made it to the third weekend of December. Twice we closed right after Thanksgiving.''
''We've had a lot of people call and ask if we have enough trees this year, and we do,'' said Kayla Weber of Weber's Christmas Forest in Geneseo. '"Summer wiped out all of last year's planted trees, and this year's babies, but you won't see the effect of that for another 5 to 10 years.''
Business has been steady at Weber's, she said. ''It's not as high as it could be, but it's been all right.''
The warm November weather has helped in one way, but not in another, she said.
Warmer temperatures have encouraged ''elder folk'' to come to look for trees, Miss Weber said. ''But we need colder weather to keep the trees dormant, and some snow certainly wouldn't hurt.''
Turnout may not be as high in past years, only because ''some traditions have gone by the wayside,'' she said. Plus, the competition between fake and real trees and those available at a tree farm compared to a big-box-type of store may be chopping down sales, Miss Weber said.
Scotch, red and white pines, and Douglas fir seem to be most popular this year, she said. Pines sell for $17.95 at Weber's, and firs cost $29.95. Wreaths start at $6.95.
Canaan firs are real popular, too, Mr. Anderson and Ms. Voltz said.
''They are a twin to the Fraser, but are more tolerant in this area,'' Ms. Voltz said.
''Frasers require more babying,'' Miss Weber said.
Free wagon rides are offered if time and manpower allows, Miss Weber said.
Lakeside Pines serves hot chocolate and candy to kids on the weekends, and supplies saws. Tree costs start at $25, Mr. DeWitt said.
Wreaths are another big draw at Richland Grove, Mr. Anderson said. Free hot chocolate, saws and a rope to drag trees out of the forest also are offered. Trees cost $7 a foot, or $5 a foot for pines.
Workers at Magerkurth Christmas Tree in rural Geneseo said they were too busy Friday to discuss seasonal sales.
Here is a list of some local tree farms
Weber's Christmas Forest 27356 N. Weber Road, Geneseo (309) 944-3656 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week
Lakeside Pines 3028 265th St. N., Hillsdale (309) 658-2317 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week
Richland Grove Tree Farm 3358 Meadow Gate Road, Lynn Center (309) 521-8229 or (563) 529-0912 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Christmas
Magerkurth Christmas Trees 18820 E. 900 St., Geneseo (309) 945-6719, (309) 944-7393, (309) 944-2497 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends, 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays
Today is Tuesday, March 11, the 70th day of 2014. There are 295 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Much damage is being done by hogs that are running at large about town. The marshal will take them up and sell them if their owners do not contain them. 1889 -- 125 years ago: George Newberry, Daniel Strecker, Al Webb and James Dixon returned from a voyage down the Mississippi River as far as Memphis, Tenn., on a flat. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Augustana College was put out of the running for the state collegiate basketball title when defeated by Millikin. The Viking lineup included Sten, Samuelson and Swanbeck, forwards, and Holtgren, Johnson and Berg, guards. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The coronation of Pope Pius XII and preliminary ceremonies were broadcast by WHBF on the Mutual Radio Network. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Reactivation of a portion of the J.I. Case Co, plant in Rock Island as a supplier for component parts for the firm's manufacturing centers at Racine, Wis., or Burlington, Iowa, is under consideration. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Downtown Moline business owners will have a chance to help shape the city's future through a survey being done by the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission.