Christmas Tree Farmers Warn of Higher Prices This Holiday Season

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The dispute between those who purchase a live Christmas tree every holiday season and those who stick to the artificial variety is a fiery one, sparking massive debate and brutal ornament wars every winter, colorful glass and pieces of porcelain Santas littering neighborhood streets in the aftermath. Just kidding. But can you imagine?

Actually, there are pros and cons to both options. An artificial Christmas tree is reusable, requires no water, and comes without the threat of aphid infestation. Meanwhile, a live tree is a fantastic way to support local small businesses, is far more sustainable, and infuses your entire home with that welcoming Christmasy smell. Plus, you can sink it and use it for fishing bait after the New Year.

Unfortunately, however, economic instability mixed with environmental conditions have added another con to both sides. Live trees and artificial trees are more expensive than usual this year. In an appearance on Good Morning America, American Christmas Tree Association Executive Director Jami Warner explained the growing problem.

“Because inflation impacts absolutely everything, the industry is seeing increases in shipping costs, fertilizer, trucking, everything you can possibly think of, whether it be real or artificial trees,” he said. “So I think consumers can expect to see anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent increases across the board on artificial and live Christmas trees this year.”

And inflation isn’t the end of the woes of Christmas tree farmers across the country. On top of the occasional wandering deer eating through their stock, farmers are seeing smaller and fewer trees. “People are used to abundance and choice,” Warner continued. “And again, the choices will be limited. But choose the tree that fits your lifestyle the best, be it real or artificial.”

Christmas Tree Farmers Battle Drought, Inflation

Because Christmas tree farmers have fewer trees this year, selling out is a real possibility. As such, National Christmas Tree Association Executive Director Tim O’Connor recommends shopping sooner rather than later.

“If you want to shop the Christmas tree farm, you really have to go early,” he said. “They’re popular and they will sell out. They have whatever trees they have available for that season and then they’re done. And they have been selling out every year early.”

Woody Woodruff, owner of a Christmas tree farm in Texas, explained that unfavorable environmental conditions have reduced his supply. As states across the U.S. continue to suffer from drought, farmers are struggling to keep their pine trees alive. This year alone, Woodruff lost 1,000 of his Virginia pines to the lack of water.

“There’s some tree growers that are all down [south] that have experienced drought conditions,” he said. “And therefore it’s going to be a little more difficult to get the trees that we needed.”

On top of the drought, rising production costs are forcing the farmers to increase their prices. “We all use diesel fuel or gasoline,” he said. “That was more expensive this year. Our fertilizers, some of them more than doubled this year. And so that really took a toll… And that was nationwide. So that took a toll on anybody that is in the farming industry trying to grow Christmas trees.”