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What Does a Christmas Tree Shortage Mean for You? A Bigger Price Tag

Santa’s not happy, y’all. We might have a national Christmas tree crisis on our hands.

First off, the National Christmas Tree Association is a real thing. (Who knew? We’re picturing a sparkly, frosty winter wonderland with desks and a hot chocolate station.) Secondly, the NCTA says the U.S. is facing a tree shortage this holiday season — which might mean a bigger price tag tied to that gorgeous Douglas fir your family’s got its eye on.

How can we be short on Christmas trees of all things? Turns out that our country’s recession 10 years ago affected Christmas tree farmers, many of whom chose to limit their crops to save money and to keep their farms when fewer people were splurging on trees. “In those years, we were in a recession. Tree sales were down, prices were down, and we weren’t planting as many trees,” NCTA’s Doug Hundley told News 12 of Long Island, New York.

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But it takes a Christmas tree about a decade to reach 7 or 8 feet tall, so we’re likely to feel the pinch this holiday season when we’re tree shopping. The NCTA recommends shopping early (well of course they do, silly, they’re the NCTA) to be sure the perfect tree is available for you. But don’t be surprised if tree prices seem unusually high. Not an early bird holiday decorator? Hey, no problem. Procrastinators may win out too — plenty of Christmas tree farms drastically lower prices a few days before the 25th.

Unfortunately, the long-term prospect for Christmas trees looks pretty gloomy too. Gary Thomas is a Christmas tree farmer at Winter Tree Farms in Jarrettsville, Maryland. Thomas — also the president of the Maryland Christmas Tree Association — told Fox Business he’s struggling to fill orders for retail store owners for their lots.

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“I feel there will be a tight market for trees this year. A lot of the farms that grew trees for the wholesale market to supply the retailers cut back on planting around 10 years ago. This was due to a glut of trees on the market and the growers were losing money on every tree they sold. Now 10 years later we have a tree shortage. The prices are up but that is due to significant higher labor and other costs of doing business such as high insurance costs,” he said.

Thomas continued, “The next generation doesn’t want to be a tree farmer, as it’s hard work and it takes eight to 10 years to grow a tree. Our industry is an aging one where the current farmers do not have a family member to take over the business so they are simply slowly going out of the business.”

Say it isn’t so, Santa!

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