NORTHEAST JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. - He's surrounded by trees but spends little time in the shade. Bob Luke bakes in the 100-degree sun while he races against time. He doesn't have the luxury to choose where to do his work.
Luke is trying to trim thousands of trees on his farm before the week is over. He owns Fort Osage Christmas Tree Farm.
Luke said his Scotch pines won't be recognizable as Christmas trees if he doesn't shape them by the end of the first week of July.
"It's a job that has to be done. It's not something you can spread out over two months. You've got a three week window," he explained.
That window of time starts every year in the middle of June and lasts about three weeks. If the task is performed too soon, the branches grow out of control. If it's done too late, Luke said the branches will likely die.
This year, the three weeks are being punctuated by a heat wave and drought. It makes Luke's job one of the hottest around.
He's taking plenty of water breaks, but he's not cutting back his hours. Luke said he's starting his days at 6:30 a.m. and working until dusk.
He said once Thanksgiving rolls around, his hard work will pay off when he sees his customers driving home from his farm with the perfect Christmas tree.
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