HAWARDEN, Iowa – Procrastinators looking to cut down a Christmas tree might be without the fresh scent of evergreen leaves in their homes this holiday season.
A nationwide shortage of Christmas trees is looming, as demand for pines, spruces and firs soars.
“You better get it before this weekend is over. I don’t think there will be too many places left of it,” Robin Miller, owner of T&S Christmas Tree Farm, southeast of South East, said Tuesday. Hawarden.
In 2020, 94 million American households celebrated Christmas by displaying a Christmas tree in their homes, according to the American Christmas Tree Association. Of these trees, 15% were alive. Despite expectations of similar consumer demand this year, the association says unprecedented weather events and supply chain issues have created a shortage. Oregon farmers said they lost up to 90% of their harvest this summer, according to the association.
Those who manage to find a living Christmas tree will likely pay more for it. A 2021 US Department of Agriculture report shows that the costs of living trees have nearly doubled from 2015 prices.
Miller expects to sell around 700 trees this year, 300 less than in 2020. She said she tries to get 700 trees out of her own field each year, but admitted she leaves more customers. cut trees that she shouldn’t have in the first year. of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“It’s hard to say no to people when they call and beg you -” I can’t find a tree anywhere else. I don’t care about its size. “I let them cut trees until December 15 of last year. The problem is that every six feet they cut a seven or eight feet that I won’t have next year,” she declared.
Miller has also lost trees in recent years due to dry weather in June, which she described as a “death sentence” for the firs planted in Iowa. Since firs are more difficult to grow than pines in Siouxland soil, Miller relies on other states to supplement his supply of firs. Normally, she orders between 200 and 300 trees. This year, she was only able to get 120.
“I don’t know the weather in the Appalachian Mountains for the last decade. I guess what’s going on there is they’ve had a shortage because of the weather they’ve had to. some time in the last decade, ”she said, noting that it can take up to 10 years for a tree to reach maturity.
Justin Pritts, who runs Country Pines Tree Farm, southeast of Marcus, said he had to go through a few different vendors to match the farm’s 2021 Christmas tree inventory with previous years. Some 2,800 trees are grown at Country Pines, and then 100 to 115 pre-cut trees, usually fir trees, are imported from northern Wisconsin each year.
“We’re running a normal inventory pretty well this year, but it was definitely hard to come by,” Pritts said Wednesday, the day the forestry farm opened. “We were fortunate not to have had the problems that a lot of the industry has had.”
Miller said customers are focusing less on the appearance of the tree and more on the tradition of cutting it down.
“What we offer as a Chosen and Cut Farm is an adventure you can’t get anywhere else,” she said. “I think people, because of COVID, being indoors it’s really drawn people to things that they can do outside with family in an environment where they don’t have to. be masked. I know it’s different now, but I still feel like people are trying to escape the box. ”
Pritts said he answered a number of calls from people who had never visited Country Pines before. They too want to “try the experience of cutting down their own tree.”
“At the rate we’re going, I think we’ll probably be done by the end of the weekend,” he said.