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Christmas trees are big business in Oregon and this year prices are up

Cultivation of firs and other popular holiday trees is big business in Oregon.

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. — It will be more expensive to buy a real living Christmas tree this year and the cause is a familiar one: inflation. While that's bad news for your wallet, it could be good news for Oregon. According to the Oregon Agriculture in The Classroom Foundation, (OATCF) the state produces over 30% of all Christmas trees sold in the United States. 

With shortages in years past, there's more good news for growers here in the Northwest: this year's harvest is coming along well. Experts don't expect any shortages, which was aided by our wetter-than average-spring. In fact, according to KGW Meteorologist Rod Hill, April 2022 was the wettest April Oregon has ever seen, with record rainfall.

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In addition to inflation, the pure logistics of shipping the trees will have a big impact on prices nationwide. With most of the trees starting their lives in western counties like Clackamas and Benton, the trees must make a long journey east to reach markets in the south and greater west.

Although the cost of trees will be up, you shouldn't have trouble finding one, according to the Real Christmas Tree Board (RCTB). The group says that 86% of consumers had no trouble finding a tree last year, and they expect things to be the same this year. The only big difference they see on the horizon is the almost-certain increase in prices. 

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According to the RCTB, 71% of tree wholesalers are expecting to raise their prices this season. The silver lining, however, is that these costs will mostly be absorbed by retailers. A lot of the big predictors of cost increases are the current prices of fuel and fertilizer, both necessities for Christmas tree production.

There are currently over 1,000 farms in Oregon that specialize in growing trees commonly associated with the holidays such as Douglas, Noble, and Grand Fir trees. As of 2020, the industry was worth a whopping $107 million, according to the OATCF. 

Aside from its economic benefits to the state, tree farming is good for the environment. According to the non-profit climate advocacy group One Tree Planted, artificial trees are predominantly made of plastic and the manufacturing process emits greenhouse gasses. 

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Although the organization notes it is generally bad for the environment to cut down trees, Christmas tree farms actually suck up harmful gases before they are harvested. In fact, you would have to keep using the same plastic tree for more than 10 years for it to have the same environmental impact as a real tree, according to One Tree Planted.

The best time to shop for a tree is in late November, according to the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. They say between November 25th and December 1st is primetime when it comes to having a wide selection, while avoiding last-minute increases in price.

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