Christmas tree farmers hard at work in the heat of summer

AKRON, N.Y. (WIVB) — In the heart and heat of summer, few people are heading to Christmas tree farms. For the farmers themselves, they’re spending hours at a time in the field, trimming the trees.

“You want them to have a triangular shape to them,” said Andy Kelkenberg. “If you don’t sheer them, they look wild.”

Kelkenberg owns Akron Acres, formerly known as Kelkenberg Farms of Akron. He’s been growing Christmas trees for more than a decade. Over that time he has discovered new tools, tricks and techniques to sheering the perfect shape.

“The first thing I look at is the leader [the highest, strongest point on the tree],” said Kelkenberg. “I’m going to use that now as a reference point and visual a taper.”

Kelkenberg says this is a task that must be completed during the summer.

“The new buds which grow in the spring have hardened,” explains the farmer. “They’ll get even more firm and you can sheer them.”

The process can take hours so Kelkenberg tries to go out in the early morning, working to do a row a day. His farm has between 6,000 and 7,000 trees.

“I knew what was ahead of us I was a little hesitant,” said Kelkenberg, talking about the decision to begin growing trees. “I was like ‘How am I going to find time to sheer all these trees?’.”

He’s made time and he has two farmhands – his son and nephew – who assist him. And whether he’s in that field on a hot, summer day or in snow, he’s always dreaming about these trees.

“They call it Christmas in July but on a Christmas tree farm, it’s Christmas all year long.”

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