INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Homeowners across the metro are trying to figure out when they’ll finish putting up their Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving, and the Christmas tree will play a central role in many of those holiday plans.

Fort Osage Farm has been running for 20 years under Bob and Kim Luke and they admit when they first took over, it was a new adventure.

“We were inexperienced, and we also were not farmers,” Kim said.

Since then, they’ve become the type of place that families go back to year after year. The nature of farming anything, though, hasn’t made it easy. One year, Bob says they lost about 10,000 trees because there was too much rain.

“A fungus developed on them, and it looked like a tornado went through our property and that’s when we decided to diversify a little bit and put our wedding venue in,” Bob said.

That venue helps guarantee business when they aren’t selling trees.

This year, Bob faced down the opposite problem when drought conditions across the region over the summer were felt on the farm too.

“We’ve been in this terrible drought where we’ve lost just most of our seedlings, so we will have to do some fall planting now,” Bob said.

Certain types of faster-growing trees can help Bob and Kim catch up since what they plant now won’t be big enough to sell for about seven years. Still, their selection this year is one of the largest in their two decades in business, but prices are up about five to ten percent because of inflation.

“It does come at a price,” Kim said. “[Imported trees] are more than they were last year for instance and last year they were more than they were the year before.”

Bob and Kim say they try to keep the prices down where they can, but the payoff is helping people find the perfect tree to guard their presents.

“All of that goes away, all the pain of developing the business, when you have a chance to see what it does for families,” Kim said.

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