Nationwide tree shortage means more expensive Christmas trees this season

Bad weather where a lot of Christmas trees are grown and higher freight costs are to blame.

Sam Masterson
November 20, 2019 - 9:09 am
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) - The state of Missouri is still feeling the effects of this year's huge rainfall, with the latest consequence being the supply of pine trees for the holiday season. Tree farms in Missouri, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina and Canada are reportedly in tight supply of Christmas trees. 

Cole's Christmas Tree Farm in Lebanon, Mo. says the rain caused a fungus to infect its Scotch pine trees and it will take two or three years to get that supply back, according to KY3.

Other major tree-growers in the U.S. and Canada are citing unusually hot weather, the 2008 recession and more rain as reasons for fewer Christmas trees. 

Michigan is a major producer of the popular Fraser fir, but MLive.com reports the Great Recession of the late 2000s is to blame for a shortage that can take a decade to recover from. 

“Maybe get your tree a little earlier than you normally would,” Christmas tree specialist with Michigan State University Extension, Jill O’Donnell said. “The supplies will be pretty good in the beginning and then slowly get tighter as we move toward Christmas.”

Oregon and North Carolina – which are two of the biggest Christmas tree producers in the U.S. – are struggling with drought and tree shortages. A historic Christmas tree farm is shutting down this season because of a lack of trees, according to KWG8.

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Tim O'Connor, the executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association, told the TODAY Show there were more than 32 million trees sold last year, which was 5 million more than the previous year. He says the average price nationally only went up about $3 per tree and that price is likely to increase again this year.

But the good news, he says, is that there isn't a big risk of running out of trees this year.

"There is not a single community in the country that ever ran out of Christmas trees,'' O'Connor told TODAY. "There may be certain locations that ran out of trees because of various reasons, but not too far away there will still be another place to get a tree."

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