Local growers say there's no major Christmas tree shortage

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COLUMBIA – A tighter supply of Christmas trees could lead Missourians to pay more and travel farther for a tree for the holidays.

The National Christmas Tree Association has data that shows a decrease of trees harvested in Missouri from 2002 to 2012:

  • 92,483 in 2002
  • 27,344 in 2007
  • 32,810 in 2012

Is there a shortage? Not necessarily. Although there has been a decline in trees harvested and sold over the years, the NCTA said it is just a tighter supply.

Mary Rood, the owner of Pea Ridge Forest in mid-Missouri, said the tree shortage may have been caused by the recession or the drought over 10 years ago. She said they just couldn’t grow the trees fast enough.

“We lost and replanted for a couple years in a row,” Rood said. “Now there is a bigger demand for what we have.”

Steve Wyatt runs the Timber View Tree Farm and said that he isn’t seeing a shortage in home-grown trees, but ones that are shipped in from Fraser Fir Trees in North Carolina.

However, Wayne Harmon, Owner of Starr Pines, said he sees no shortage. He chalks it up to careful planning.

“If you want a real tree you can go get one, we got thousands of trees,” Harmon said.

Harmon said he thinks that the artificial tree companies are trying to spread false information that there is a real tree shortage.

Doug Hundley, the seasonal spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association said the whole debate over the tree shortage started last year after a Canadian forestry group sent out a report about the potential decline in real trees.

He said their data has indicated there has never been a shortage, but there is a tighter supply. This may mean that people might not find the exact size and type they want at one retailer, but they will be able to find it at another.

“What’s changed is that 10 years ago we had too many trees for the market. The demand was off, it was low, it was low because we are in the recession,” Hundley said. “Now we have enough trees, we don’t have an excess.”

According to their data, prices have been stable the last two years. He said prices may go up this year by 5 or 10 % but that they won’t know until the season is over.