Drought drives up Christmas tree prices

A nationwide Christmas tree shortage is causing prices to skyrocket.

By Kathleen Zamora and Amy Nungaray, Staff Writers

Millions of Americans will be on their way this week to pick out a holiday tree that smells of fresh pine to start off the Christmas season.

They will be in for a surprise when they realize that the nationwide sticker price has increased due to the recession that the country fell into a decade ago. Farmers are responding to the lack of demand from previous years, and natural catastrophes have affected soil conditions which stunts the planting process.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there will be a price increase of 5 to 10 percent. Because of this increase, families are switching to artificial christmas trees and the battle of real versus faux trees will begin. Eighty percent of families will use artificial trees nationwide says the National Christmas Tree Association.

“It really stinks that I can’t afford to get a real Christmas tree anymore.” said Valley Glen resident Sarah Hernandez. “It feels as if the Grinch is here and is taking away my Christmas spirit.”

Transportation to get the trees has become increasingly difficult, because the shipping containers that are used to move them are being utilized for hurricane relief across the nation. The demand for trucks and drivers have forced the companies to pay more, thus forcing another increase to the overall price.

While Oregon, the largest producer of Christmas trees for the Farmer’s market, is facing a heat wave that has dried up the growth of grand firs trees. North Carolina, the second largest producer, is doing their best to meet the demand. It takes an average time of 7 to 12 years to grow a 6 foot Christmas tree.

“The wholesale cost of growing a Christmas tree is about 75% labor and 25% everything else combined,” said Mark Rohlfs, Owner of Santa & Sons Christmas Trees located at the corner of Burbank Blvd and Fulton Avenue. “So when you buy a real Christmas tree for your family, you are providing living wage local jobs on family owned, environmentally sustainable small acreage farms in rural parts of our state.”

Doug Hundley, a spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association, recommends the public to shop between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1 to optimize selection and avoid last-minute price hikes.

While the price of a real tree may be high, the public is paying less overall because real trees can be harvested while fake trees do not decompose, producing more waste in our ecosystem.

Your thoughts?