Oh, Christmas tree... shortage?
The country is seeing fewer Christmas trees, and the crop that is available is more expensive, the Associated Press reports. Because of extreme weather coupled with supply chain disruptions, fewer trees will be available and prices will shoot up this season.
The situation is even looking bleak in Indiana, Pennsylvania, dubbed the "Christmas Tree Capital of the World." Indiana County Christmas Tree Growers Association President Gregg Van Horn predicted the smaller crop this year could drive prices up by as much as 30%.
"In the early 1960s there were about 200 tree farms," Van Horn told local news outlet WTAE. "Now there are just five or six of us."
Van Horn said a seed shortage, price increase and threats to his crop — like fungus and deer — have made this season especially tough.
"It seemed like everything was against us for a while there and now it's catching up to us," he told WTAE, adding, "This year I have enough trees for my regular customers, but this will be my last year. I just can't get them to grow any faster."
He predicted that in five years, "there will probably be trees everywhere and it will be like it was 5 to 10 years ago when we were practically giving trees away," but for now, customers should expect shortages and higher prices.
American Christmas Tree Association Executive Director Jami Warner encouraged Americans to buy their trees early this year in a news release sent out Sept. 15.
"We hope that every person who wants a Christmas tree will find their perfect tree this year," Warner said. "If I can give one piece of advice to consumers right now, it is to find and buy your Christmas tree early."
Despite the shortage, experts like Michelle Keyser, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association, say there are enough farmers to supply trees to Pennsylvania shoppers.
"We've never run out of trees," Keyser told the York Daily Record. "It's not like a toilet paper situation."
While live Christmas trees are suffering this year, fake trees are taking a hit, too. Caroline Tuan, chief operating officer of artificial tree seller Balsam Hill, told the AP that her company has seen a 20% increase in the price of their fake trees after struggling with supply chain issues.
"We have to bring our products over from our factories (in China), and that has been very challenging," Tuan said. "All of that has impacted us, which means that we have fewer trees to sell as an industry."