The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Oh, Christmas tree (shortage)

Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

With the holiday season in full swing, those who have not already purchased a Christmas tree this year may have difficulty doing so due to a nationwide shortage. 

All types of Christmas trees are on the chopping block due to supply chain shortages, extreme weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest and high transportation costs.
This holiday season, it’s important to purchase trees early, according to the Washington Post and the American Christmas Tree Association, or it won’t just be the Grinch who stole Christmas.
Wildfires spreading throughout Oregon and Washington, two states that together contribute nearly 25% of the national supply of trees, have caused issues with tree cultivation this year, according to an article in Fox Business.  
“Record-breaking heat and wildfires in late June took a heavy toll on Christmas tree farms in Oregon and Washington, two of the nation’s largest growers,” the article reads.
Not even the trees could escape the supply chain shortages and ongoing inflation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Fox Business. 
“Extreme weather and supply chain disruptions have reduced supplies of both real and artificial trees this season. American shoppers should expect to have fewer choices and pay up to 30% more for both types this Christmas,” the article reads.
In 2019, the amount of real Christmas trees purchased by Americans was 26.2 million. Not only has this issue caused national disruption for millions of citizens and their holiday decorations, but it also has affected local businesses. The College Station Noon Lions Club’s Christmas tree sales were affected by this shortage, forcing them to order from a new Minnesota vendor this holiday season, co-chair Meredith Childs said. 
“We had to find a new vendor this year due to shortages at our previous vendor,” Childs said. “We contacted almost 300 farms trying to find one that could fulfill our whole order.”
Texas A&M environmental geosciences professor Erin Roark said the required period of growth for Christmas trees impacts the shortage now in hindsight. 
“One has to remember with live trees, that it takes eight to 10 years to grow to a mature tree,” Roark said. “So, some of the supply issues are related to what was happening five to 10 years ago.” 
Roark said the supply problems could even be related to events in the past, such as the financial crisis of 2008, because tree farmers were limited and were not able to plant their normal allotment.
“From an environmental perspective, the complexity of farming and growing trees — and having to deal with extreme heat conditions, drought conditions, forest fires or severe winter storms in Texas — in conjunction with the long-term period to grow a crop, speaks to a complex industry that is dependent on changing conditions. This could all have an effect on the supply part of the equation,” Roark said.
Due to the timeliness of tree growth, Lions Club Christmas tree sales co-chair Carl Stewart said this will be a problem for years to come.
“We will continue to see a shortage in real trees over the next few years due to the hotter and drier weather patterns we are currently seeing,” Stewart said. “Our grower planted 25,000 new trees in the spring and figures they lost 18,000 due to the heat and lack of rain. Those trees will be missed in the marketplace [in] as soon as six years.”
Stewart said with the shortage, the costs of trees and their shipping from farms are higher this year. 
“We are seeing more and more families going back to real trees each year; thus, the demand gets higher and higher for a product that takes a long time to grow,” Stewart said. “We also see a trend in families buying larger trees each year as well, and that means the supply gap gets longer and longer.”
With Christmas fast approaching, students and families prepare for the tidings of joy following finals season and dream about memories under the trees with the people they love. The Lions Club Christmas tree sales co-chairs advise shoppers to buy trees early to avoid shortage issues and to be prepared for holiday seasons, or it won’t be just Charlie Brown with the sad tree. 

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