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National Christmas Tree Shortage Impacting Hoosiers

The national shortage stems from the 2007 recession. Christmas tree farms planted fewer trees then because of low demand and those trees are just now maturing.

Photo: Steve Burns

The national shortage stems from the 2007 recession. Christmas tree farms planted fewer trees then because of low demand and those trees are just now maturing.

If you plan on getting a real Christmas tree this year, you might want to pick one out sooner rather than later. The National Christmas Tree Association says the supply is down this year.

The Association says the problem stems from the recession. When the economy tanked 10 years ago, real Christmas tree sales took a major hit. That meant farmers had less money to plant trees, so they didn’t keep up with their usual numbers. Fast forward 10 years, and we’re feeling the effect. Those trees that didn’t get planted would have been maturing about now, so we have fewer trees available.

There’s a much higher demand since the economy has bounced back. It means several tree farms, including in Indiana, could run out of trees early this year.

Jonathan Ada and his wife cut their own tree down every year.

“I think it’s just about the experience,” he says. “Where we’re from there’s no fresh Christmas trees, you just get it store-bought.”

They’re among thousands of families that come to Twin H Tree Farms in Bloomington. But, this year, there are fewer varieties to choose from.

“I’m on the southern edge of being able to actually grow conifers and with the temperature, the climate has definitely changed in 30 years,” says President Jeanne Hopwood. “And, we have so much insect and fungus problems here because of the warmer weather it’s harder for us to grow the trees we used to grow.”

That’s not the only problem impacting the farm’s supply. Many of the most popular trees, like Frasier and Douglas firs, won’t grow in Indiana at all. So Twin H relies on a Michigan-based supplier to meet the demand.

“My supplier ran short at the last minute,” Hopwood says. “Which kind of caught me off guard.”

While Twin H still got the number of trees it requested, it didn’t get the quantity it wanted of certain varieties.

“The last two years, we did run out early, so people are now panicky,” Hopwood says. “So, it’s been a very busy last three-day weekend.”

That means if you want the real deal this Christmas, the earlier you get it, the better. The high demand means you’ll also pay more for a real tree this year. The National Christmas Tree Association says prices are up five to 10 percent. The Association only expects the shortage to last another couple of years.

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