Christmas trees will be scarcer, more expensive in 2018

- There is expected to be a nationwide Christmas tree shortage this year, and you can blame the 2009 recession and a glut of trees a decade ago that drove many growers out of the business.

When the economy struggled, tree farmers cut back on plantings.  Those trees were set to come to market over the next few years.  That means while the demand is high in today's good economic times, the supply is low.

Fraser Fir Christmas trees in North Carolina and surrounding areas have reached a critically low level according to bulk tree buyers, leaving many Christmas tree farmers unable to fulfill orders.

The Garden Gates tree retailer in New Orleans uses North Carolina to supply its trees.

"Each farm we have surveyed in search of the 'perfect tree' has turned a 30-day process into a 6-month scavenger hunt," said landscape operations manager Jesse Edmondson. "This year has been more like a scene from Mission Impossible."

One North Carolina Christmas tree farm has even announced that it won't be open for people to come and cut their own tree down because they don't have enough.

Reeve Ridge Christmas Tree Farm said:  "Our tree supply was depleted more quickly than we anticipated.  Those of you who have been visiting us for the last few years have likely noticed that our tree crop was getting quite small!"

The farm says it has new crops growing and it plan on re-opening when it has a good supply of trees.

It what is described as the largest Christmas tree auction in the world at Buffalo Valley Produce Auction in Pennsylvania, they were expecting prices to be up as much as 20 percent when as many as 50,000 baled Christmas trees were auctioned earlier this month.  That compares with up to 80,000 trees in some previous years.

American consumers are expected to buy 27 million trees this year.  Prices are expected to be higher with an average retail price of $75 per tree.

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