Christmas tree shortage possible amid higher prices this year, NC growers say

Christmas tree growers in the North Carolina mountains are dealing with shortages and higher prices this year.

For weeks now, they’ve been harvesting hundreds of thousands of trees that will be shipped up and down the east coast.

Growers across several counties told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty inflation and a shortage will drive prices higher. They say they’re also seeing a higher demand, with folks getting in the Christmas spirit early this year.

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Steve Watson owns Twin Pines Nursery and says his first sale at his choose and cut lot in Pineola this year was on November 1st. Already he has sold dozens of trees and Thanksgiving is still a week away. He says he’s been trying to hold prices down but it’s been challenging this year.

“Everything has gone up. Labor costs have gone up, trucking,” said Steve Watson with Twin Pines Nursery. “These guys who are shipping trees, the shipping costs has gone outrageous.”

In Newland Thursday, a tractor-trailer was being loaded with 600 trees that will be in Ohio by this weekend.

Billy Howell is up from Alabama to purchase 4,000 trees for his lot but says there’s a shortage especially in the taller trees. He’s been in the Christmas tree business for 40 years.

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“We got about a 20% increase on our trees up here so you’ve got to pass that on,” Howell said.

Growers say some of the old timers also got out of the business when there was a glut of trees eight years ago…leading to a shortage today because it takes a Fraser fir that long to grow to maturity.

For decades, Brent King’s family has sold thousands of trees at their lot in Morganton. They have a farm in Avery County and started selling this week.

“There’s a shortage. A small shortage. Prices are up just a touch. Hopefully in the next few years they’ll come back down,” King said.

Faherty asked about pricing at the “choose and cut” lots, and he learned for a 7- to 8-foot tree, customers can expect to pay between $70 and $120 this year.

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