If your family prefers to go the more traditional route and get a live Christmas tree each year, you may have noticed a trend in recent years. Live trees are getting harder to find and more expensive to purchase. To be specific, Christmas tree growers came up about 1.5 million trees short this year compared to the demand.
Here’s the reason for the shortage…
It all started about 20 years ago when too many trees were planted, resulting in a bumper crop that was meant to be harvested in the middle 2000s. If you know your financial history, that put the harvest time in the middle of a major U.S. recession. Americans were being very careful with their spending, and they simply were not buying live Christmas trees. Growers on both coasts felt a major impact from the drop in sales. As a result, they didn’t’ have the equity to plant new seedlings at that time.
Fast-forward to present day. There aren’t enough trees to meet the demand and retailers and consumers are both suffering.
The smaller, independent nurseries and shopping center-type vendors are feeling the worst of the impact. That’s because they do not have contracts with the tree farms like the big box stores do. That means that the Lowe’s, Walmarts and Home Depots will get their trees first. The smaller vendors have to shop around for their trees and charge higher prices.
Those involved in the business of live Christmas trees are also concerned about the rise in the popularity of artificial trees. Fake trees now adorn more houses in America each year than real trees. Many people feel that artificial trees are more environmentally friendly, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Real trees are able to collect carbon dioxide as they grow, they are biodegradable and they’re normally shipped pretty locally.
The other issue is that the current supply and demand issue cannot be easily or quickly fixed. That’s because a fir tree normally takes 10-12 years to reach the appropriate “Christmas tree” height. Growers learned their lesson from 10 years ago, so they’re also staying pretty restrained today. If you’re looking for a deal on a live tree over the next couple of years you could try finding a landowner that doesn’t mind you harvesting a tree, or you could buy directly from a local supplier.