Customers Will Need More Green To Buy Fresh Trees

CHICAGO (CBS) — If you’re looking for a real Christmas tree in your home this year, you may want to get it early. And expect to pay more.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker explains why higher prices may needle some customers.

“Approximately 50 acres.”

Karen Anderson’s family has been selling Christmas trees on their Plainfield farm since 1969.

“The Douglas fir are probably our most popular,” said Anderson.

They used to sell at least 1500 tree a season. Then ten years ago, the recession hit.

“So you went from selling 1500 trees a season to selling what,” asked Tucker.  “300,” said Anderson.

When people cut back on buying, the family cut back on planting.

From a high of 2,000 a year to maybe 500.

“There were four years we didn’t plant anything,” said Anderson. “We just couldn’t because there was no money.”

The impact of cutting back is being felt today because trees take a long time to grow.

To supplement her inventory Anderson ordered Fraser firs from North Carolina but she worries about delivery.

“I’ve heard other people say they’ve ordered the trees and didn’t get them,” said Anderson.

Farmers like Anderson who have ordered trees from other states have a right to be concerned, according to Doug Hundley, spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association.

There are 3300 tree farm operators in the U.S.

That’s down from 17,000 a decade ago. Another reason for the Christmas tree shortage.

So sellers are on notice.

“They’re unlikely to get more trees than they got last year,” said Hundley.

The warning for consumers:

“I wouldn’t wait until week before Christmas to get your tree,” said Anderson.

With 45 days until Christmas, Anderson says it’s costing her more money to ship the trees from North Carolina this year.

So she’s raising the price of the Fraser fir from $85 to at least $91.

You can expect other local sellers to also raise their prices.

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