TUALATIN, Ore. -- Planning on buying a real Christmas tree this year? You may want to check the price tag first.
Industry experts say Oregon is in the midst of a tree shortage. Because of that, prices could be slightly higher this year.
Casey Grogan, a Silverton tree farmer and board member with the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association, blames the shortage on an abundance of trees a decade ago."
At one point, we were selling trees for less than they cost to grow,” said Grogan. “There was too much competition.”
As a result, some tree farms went out of business. Other farmers switched to different crops. All of this happened during the recession, too.
“That was sort of a double whammy. And it hit a lot of farms hard,” said Grogan.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the amount of trees cut and sold by Oregon growers dropped 26 percent between 2010 and 2015. The Oregon Department of Agriculture also reports that the number of licensed Christmas tree growers in the state has declined over recent years.
As seedlings planted during the recession have started to mature, the state is feeling the effects.
“There’s a shortage of Christmas trees,” said Craig Lee, who grows Christmas trees on his Tualatin farm. “So the price is way up on them. The wholesale price especially.”
Grogan expects prices to rise about ten percent.
“I hate to see any consumer go without having to find a real Christmas tree,” he said.
At the same time, Oregon Christmas trees remain popular in out-of-state markets. According to the Christmas Tree Association, roughly 92 percent of the state’s trees are exported out of the area with California and Mexico being popular destinations. In 2016, Oregon produced 5.2 million trees.
Grogan’s advice: buy early if you’re wanting to guarantee a good tree this year.
“Bigger concern might be that everybody may not get a tree this season. So I would suggest people go out and shop early and get their tree sooner than normal,” he said.
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