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Climate change to blame for Christmas tree shortage

(Mitch Legan )

Christmas tree shoppers may have fewer choices this year and expect to pay even more than what they have paid in previous years.

Christmas tree farms are facing a shortage in their trees this year due to climate change and several droughts across the country. 

The average years it takes for the trees to grow is 7-9 years and if a drought occurs for too long, farmers face years of delay in planting. 

Twin H Tree Farm President, Jeanne Hopwood says they’ve been struggling this year with Indiana’s warm weather.

“It’s not something that’s going to be resolved in a year because it’s not a yearly crop... this is kind of a continuous rotation that happens throughout history,” Hopwood said.

The most popular Christmas trees are Fraser Fir trees which have been hard to grow for Twin H Tree Farms. Some Spruce trees are growing fungus and Scotch Pine trees have diplodia blight, a common fungal disease with pine needles in bunches of 2’s and 3’s. 

“I’m in good standing with my supplier, but the trees just aren’t there. Yeah everybody says why don’t go somewhere else? There’s nowhere else to go,” Hopwood said.  

Last year was the first time in 40 years Twin H Tree Farms closed early due to trees only growing 4 feet to 5 and a half feet and not having enough trees in the fields. Hopwood says most of the customers that came out last year came out the first week this year knowing the lack of trees her farm will have. 

“We got an abundance of 5 and a half and 6 and half foot trees, which is not what I would normally want to have... all the trees over 8 foot are gone,” Hopwood said. 

The pandemic has not affected Hopwood’s farm but the shortage of truck drivers have caused supply travel to be more expensive, driving the selling prices up. 

Christmas trees take seven to nine years to grow, keeping farmers busy months before the holiday season starts.

“People think that we only work at Christmas, but we’re working all year long. You have to trim every tree every year. You have to keep it mowed to keep the disease and the fungus down,” Hopwood said.

Tree farmers are very busy this time of year and it is recommended that you come in person to the farm to shop instead of calling ahead. 

Hopwood says it will take several years to dig out of this shortage.

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