Still looking for your Christmas tree?

Tall ones? Yeah, they're in short supply

BY JOHN HUNTER
Posted 12/6/18

According to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association in Boone, the state is seeing a limited supply of Fraser fir trees compared to years past. Fraser fir trees represent almost all of the species grown in the state. Some 1,300 growers produce them across roughly 40,000 acres in North Carolina. North Carolina produces more than 20 percent of the real Christmas trees grown in the United States.

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Still looking for your Christmas tree?

Tall ones? Yeah, they're in short supply

Posted

If you haven’t found your Christmas tree yet this year, be prepared: it might look more like Charlie Brown’s scrawny tree than a Rockefeller Center-worthy Fraser fir.

That’s because the United States is experiencing a Christmas tree shortage, limiting the selection and quality of trees and raising the costs for some consumers.

“We are getting down to the last trees of any height right now,” said Teri Phillips, who along with her husband Al own Phillips Farms of Chatham on Hanks Chapel Road in Pittsboro.

“My husband has gone to try to see if we can get any larger trees” she said. “We have been dealing with growers in Allegheny County for 20 years. Last year was tough. This year is a little tougher.”

According to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association in Boone, the state is seeing a limited supply of Fraser fir trees compared to years past. Fraser fir trees represent almost all of the species grown in the state. Some 1,300 growers produce them across roughly 40,000 acres in North Carolina. North Carolina produces more than 20 percent of the real Christmas trees grown in the United States.

The economy, the weather, and wildlife have played a part in the shortage of Christmas trees.

In 2008, the United States was in the middle of the Great Recession. Farmers planted fewer trees as the economy tanked. Because it takes around 10 years for a seven-foot tree to grow, consumers are now seeing the results.

Droughts and wildfires struck western North Carolina in 2016, and destroyed tree crops in many counties.

“Dry conditions delay the seedlings growing and can delay your crop,” Phillips said.
And wildlife has also played a factor.

“When the trees bud, you have to keep deer out,” Phillips said. “Deer will eat the full buds and you can lose a whole year’s crop that way,” Phillips said.

Still, the National Christmas Tree Association says that the shortage isn’t as bad as reported by some retailers.

According to the NCTA, 27.4 million trees were sold last year. The NCTA estimates that nearly the same number will be sold this year. Similar concerns were raised last year about a Christmas tree shortage. But a nationwide survey conducted by the NCTA showed that the industry saw little impact.

The survey showed that the average tree cost around $74.70 in 2016. In 2017, the same number of trees were produced, and the cost rose only about 30 cents per tree.
Phillips said that the industry has ebbs and flows.

“The supply goes up and down,” she said. “This year has been a tougher for sure.”
“But we’ve still got a great supply of three- to five-foot trees this year,” Phillips said. “If you’re looking for anything taller, you don’t want to wait any longer. The supplies are running out, not just here, but everywhere.”

Association says that the shortage isn’t as bad as reported by some retailers.

According to the NCTA, 27.4 million trees were sold last year. The NCTA estimates that nearly the same number will be sold this year. Similar concerns were raised last year about a Christmas tree shortage. But a nationwide survey conducted by the NCTA showed that the industry saw little impact.

The survey showed that the average tree cost around $74.70 in 2016. In 2017, the same number of trees were produced, and the cost rose only about 30 cents per tree.

Phillips said that the industry has ebbs and flows.

“The supply goes up and down,” she said. “This year has been a tougher for sure.”
“But we’ve still got a great supply of three- to five-foot trees this year,” Phillips said. “If you’re looking for anything taller, you don’t want to wait any longer. The supplies are running out, not just here, but everywhere.”

Christmas, Trees

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