Climate Voices—Christmas Tree Farmer John Krueger
Krueger’s Christmas Tree Farm has been a part of Minnesotans' holiday season for over six decades. Located in the St. Croix Valley, the Krueger family has been committed to making smart, sustainable solutions for their farm since 1916. Third-generation tree farmer John Krueger is now in charge of daily operations and keeping the legacy—and the magic—of their farm thriving.
Clean Water to the St. Croix River
The Krueger tree farm is home to seven different waterways that lead to the St. Croix River, making them conscious of their runoff. As an environmentally mindful farm, they avoid the use of herbicides or pesticides on their trees whenever possible. “It's the right thing to do from an environmental and footprint standpoint.” John says it might be easier to spray fertilizer, “and you might get a crop of trees one or two years sooner. But we’re trying to do our part in our little neck of the woods.” The Kruegers balance their approach to profits with the health of the land and the future of their farm.
Mitigating Extreme Weather
Like many farmers, the Kruegers were impacted by the severe drought last summer. Preventative measures, healthy soil, and a focus on climate resilient practices helped them manage the impacts.
John says mulching is essential for drought mitigation. “Mulching not only makes the trees grow better and can help them survive, but it also cools the soil and keeps the soil moisture in.”
Healthy trees need healthy soil. Minimal plowing and tilling help reduce erosion. The Kruegers grind up the stumps as they sit in the field so they can decompose into the ground. The process helps lock in soil organisms and keeps that whole ecosystem in place. “Instead of spraying the weeds with just herbicides, we spent a lot of time mowing and weed whipping between the trees. It's free fertilizer into the ground versus having to buy it and spread it and all the excess washing away into the water,” John says.
Though they were able to work around some of these impacts of climate change, John still worries about the future of the land. “We've seen more of the extremes—wet to really dry. Just in the last two years, we went from one of the wettest years on record to one of the driest. We're aware and concerned.”
Making Positive Change
Farmers like John Krueger recognize the climate-related issues they face and do their best to foster better a future. Legislation designed to mitigate climate impacts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions could help the Kruger’s and other Minnesota farmers. For instance, the Build Back Better act would help more than 200,000 farmers improve sustainability practices and prepare them for the effects of harmful extreme weather events.
Learn more about Krueger's Christmas Trees.
Learn about how the Build Back Better Act will benefit Minnesotans, and how other climate impacts are already being felt across our state.