Oh, Christmas tree! Increasing demand, decreased supply of live trees driving up costs, may leave some in the cold

Ian Spence loads cut trees on a trailer at Carl and Dorothy Young's Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farm Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Ian Spence loads cut trees on a trailer at Carl and Dorothy Young's Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farm Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Area residents pining for a live Christmas tree to gather ‘round this Yuletide should act early and expect to pay more because demand is up while supply is down.

Roger Koch, president of the Ohio Christmas Tree Association, said live trees are seeing resurgent popularity. But it takes eight to 10 years to grow a tree, so local growers have a smaller supply from planting less on the heels of the Great Recession.

People can expect to pay about 10% more this year, he said, and for some lots to run out. His 5-acre farm south of Oxford in Butler County, Koch Christmas Trees, opens Black Friday but is taking customers by reservation only this year to avoid untenable crowds.

“I would suggest to people that if you truly want to get a cut tree, you need to be cognizant of when you purchase that tree. You don’t want to lollygag,” he said. “If you do, you probably won’t find one.”

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Stores and farms that ship in trees from out of state are also impacted by fires and droughts in the Pacific Northwest, as well as supply chain problems, according to the American Christmas Tree Association.

“Consumers who delay their tree purchase will face limited selection and fewer options than in years past,” the association said in a recent news release.

A street sign among the trees at Carl and Dorothy Young's Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farm Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
A street sign among the trees at Carl and Dorothy Young's Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farm Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Ben Young stood last week at the end of Santa Claus Lane, the path that runs through his family’s ­­­50-acre Carl & Dorothy Young’s Christmas Tree Farm outside Yellow Springs, as workers drilled tree stand holes in cut trees preparing for the business to open on Nov. 26. They are not requiring appointments.

The farm was extremely busy last year, Young said.

“A lot of folks were anxious to get out of the house and get a real tree,” he said. “What we do here is where you can go out and cut your own, so it’s kind of more the experience. We’re selling the family time together … create some memories, take some pictures and get a tree.”

Ben Young is surrounded by acres of Christmas trees Friday at Carl and Dorothy Young's Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farm. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Ben Young is surrounded by acres of Christmas trees Friday at Carl and Dorothy Young's Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farm. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Young’s grows primarily Canaan fir trees — a relative of the iconic Frazier fir, which doesn’t grow in Ohio — as well as white pine, Norway spruce and white fir. They also buy extra trees from other farms. Young wanted to ship in some bigger trees to offer this year but couldn’t because of the cost of trucking.

“During the recession, some guys quit planting. In this business you’ve got to plan 10 years ahead of time if you’re going to have a big tree, so that threw a bunch of folks behind,” he said. “Demand is growing faster than the trees.”

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