Oregon Christmas tree farmers may be looking at a lean harvest this year, due to seedling shortages and the changing climate.
According to Christmas Tree Specialist Chal Landgren of Oregon State University, just a decade ago seedling suppliers weren’t able to keep up with demand.
“It became harder to get them,” he told The Oregonian. “Nurseries didn’t want to grow on speculation.”
As Christmas trees take 7 to 11 years to mature, this has left some fields without proper-sized trees, like Historic Kirchem Tree Farm in Oregon City.
“We just don’t have the trees,” said Cher Tollefson, co-owner of the farm. “We have 2,000 that will be ready next year, but they are not up to size. They are not up to our standards.”
Furthermore, 2017 and 2018 saw two unusually hot summers, which are hard on young trees, both due to heat stress and lack of moisture. Tollefsen reported losing a “high percentage” of her crop.
“It’s not a fun time to be in the business,” she said. “In an average year we’ll take in $30,000 to $50,000. This year is a big zero.”
With growers like Tollefsen closing their fields this year, Landgren warns that “In general prices may go up. But if you talk to growers, we’re about right in terms of supply.” Thus, Oregon should still come close to producing the usual number of Christmas trees, around 4.2 million.
By Brandon Urey