A beautifully tapered Christmas pine will set you back around $80, sales of live trees up 29% over last year as families scramble for a bit of old-fashioned tradition to add comfort to the conclusion of a very stressful year.
Beverly Welsh, master gardener and creator of Arbor Gate in Tomball, says Covid is certainly playing a role in people’s selections this year with live trees in very high demand. “I assume it’s because people aren’t traveling as much this year, so they’re decorating and bringing brightness and joy to their home. Fresh Christmas trees offer that,” she tells KTRH News.
The biggest factor driving up prices is an ongoing shortage that began with wildfires decimating pine forests in the Pacific Northwest ten years ago and farmers in the northeast cutting back on plantings during the Great Recession and floods in North Carolina, all of which struck critical mass about as we entered the decade. It takes ten years for a standard Christmas tree to grow, and new plantings haven’t caught up with demand yet. “The problem for the past few years and will continue to be for the next couple is just a shortage of trees,” Welsh says, and supply/demand metrics means prices are going up. “Not only the cost of the tree itself, but freight costs have increased this year as well.”
Wildfires across the West Coast this year and last have also killed off many fir trees. They grow in about eight year cycles, and we’re in a bit of a lull for 2020 on top of the weather-imposed shortages, so the selection may be limited. Welsh says if you want a fresh tree this year it’s best not to wait until Christmas Eve.
photos: Getty Images