Lack of natural Christmas trees on the North American market may increase prices this season.
Suddenly from the tree to the greenhouse storeroom, vendors are struggling to share, said Brock Friesen, owner of Creekside Homes and Gardens in Spruce Grove.
“The recession that caused some of the growers back in 2007 cut back their planting,” Friesen said in an interview with CBC Radio Edmonton AM on Thursday.
“And it takes about 10 years to produce a tree. So here we are, nearly 10 years later, there is a shortage of trees.
“And I think there has been a resurgence in the people who want the tree alive. When you determine there is demand, you are already behind.
Friesen said inclement weather could also wreak havoc on supplies. He said a bad growing season could ruin a tree with unsightly brown patches.
He said the tree farm industry is also declining. Many established farmers are growing old, and the next generation is not signed on for an unexpected trade.
“And just like a lot of agricultural businesses that require a lot of hard work, there is little interest in growing a tree for 10 years to get into that kind of job and be quite patient. And so people There is no place for tree growers.
Shirley Brennan, executive director of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, agreed the root of the problem stretches back a decade.
Natural Christmas trees farming increased from a $53-million industry in 2008 to a 100-million dollar industry in 2019 — something growers hadn’t anticipated.
“It takes 10 years to grow a tree,” she said. “When the demand is up, we just can’t plant them fast enough.”
‘We started scrambling.’
Friesen, who has been selling trees for more than 30 years, used the same supplier for more than a decade. This year, unable to meet demand, the farm in Montana cut him off the buyer’s list.
Faced with short supply, growers in the United States are favouring their American customers, he said.
“We just assumed that our supply was good. But when we called him when we usually do, we discovered we weren’t on the list of people getting trees this year.
“We started to stretch. We contacted producers in Ontario and Michigan and Montana, basically anywhere we could think of.”
He suspected that his old supplier was struggling to meet the demand after visiting the farm last year.
He said, “They will take a nine-foot tree and cut it into seven-footers, just to fill the orders that were coming.”
Friesen eventually found a new supplier in Saskatchewan. But he has passed on some of the increased cost to his customers, and the quality is not quite what he used to do.
Fraser is particularly famous for FIR, its pyramid shape and ability to maintain needles is in short supply.
He said, “I like being a variety, and maybe my favourite is a grand FIR, which we don’t have this year.” The fragrance is one of the best, and it’s likely one of the absolute best. “
For those trying to find the right tree, Friesen recommended looking for one that had gone inland. Coastal trees do not hold their needle once they come to Alberta in frigid temperatures.
And if you want one that must withstand the rigours of the holiday season, the Fraser FIR is always a solid choice.
“It is unbeatable for needle retention,” he said. “You are very much Ukrainian Christmas, which is very important for many people as long as the needle is guaranteed.”
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