Northwest tree shortage leads to Christmas conundrum in Utah


People are already picking out their Christmas trees at Westover Christmas Trees. Far fewer are available and they are far more expensive.

He hasn't seen a shortage, but has gotten a lot of interest from people who are experiencing it.

In most cases Balsam firs were substituted.

"Every year in June we talk to the vendor and go up to OR to look at the trees and decide what to take", Julie Vario said.

"We didn't have any issue", Vanderpool said. "We ordered the same number we normally order, but they shorted us". We aren't increasing our prices. Shadle, who plans to move 6,000-7,000 Christmas trees in the coming weeks, said he purchased trees from 16 different farmers, and plans to bring some in from his own farm, as well. The shortage is in part due to the Great Recession, when farmers cut back plantings almost a decade ago. But during the recession, some businesses didn't make enough to plant more trees or closed down.

Now, there are fewer trees to go around, and more people are looking to buy real trees.

"I don't want to send anyone home empty-handed", she said. The Fraser fir is a hardy tree that can withstand dry spells, but it needs clean mountain air to achieve optimal growth; if severe drought conditions continue in the USA throughout 2017, growers could lose more trees as a result.

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A nationwide Christmas tree shortage didn't stop one North Texas woman from realizing her dream of going into the business.

Doug Hundley, a member of the association, said inventory is low, because it takes eight to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree. But he says they had no problem getting the trees.

Shadle said the best-quality trees will run as much as $80 each this year. "There's nothing like smelling a real tree in the house".

Robert Reynolds has been in the Christmas tree business for 45 years.

The Forest Service has yet to run out of Christmas trees for sale, but those interested must buy their permit from the Evanston office in person, Kirkland said, and will be limited to the remote north slope of the Uintahs for harvesting their tree.

"It's a demand for them now", Reynolds said.

The shortages began to bite during the 2016 season when growers oversold supplies and were forced to harvest trees from their 2017 allocation in order to honor their commitments, magnifying their shortages from that point on.