Extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest and supply chain bottlenecks everywhere have left Christmas tree lots across the country scrambling this holiday season.
Most U.S. lots get their Douglas and Noble firs – among the most popular trees used at Christmas – from the Northwest, and many Arizona lots get theirs specifically from Oregon.
Persistent drought, rising temperatures and wildfires last summer have resulted in fewer trees from Oregon – 92% of which is experiencing severe drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.
“This last season, we had a lot of wildfires, a lot of heat waves and a lot of drought in the Pacific Northwest,” said Scott Albretsen, tree specialist for Valley View Christmas Trees. “And that’s caused a lot of damage to the farms up there. A lot of the mature trees were damaged from it, and a lot of the seedlings that were just planted were completely lost.”
In addition, supply chain issues have arisen as the economy continues to rebound from COVID-19 disruptions.
“The second issue that we’re dealing with is shipping,” Albretsen said. “They’re increasing costs with fuel and trucking and the significant shortage in the amount of trucking we can get is just significantly limited in how we can get the trees delivered to us.”
Albretsen said Valley View Christmas Trees, a family-owned business with multiple lots in metro Phoenix and Southern California, has slightly raised prices because of those supply chain challenges.
“So the prices have raised in comparison to that, but we’re trying very hard to keep our prices low,” he said. “We’ve been here for 40 years selling trees in Arizona, and this is about community for us.”
Sal Bracale, director of operations with Moon Valley Nurseries, which has locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Florida, said his lots are determined to make getting a tree a family experience, despite the challenges.
“We want our clients to be able to come in and hear the Christmas music and hear the chain saws going, have the fire burning,” he said. It’s a tradition; it’s like going to a pumpkin patch. It’s something you do as a family event.”
Both companies believe they have enough trees to supply to everyone who wants to bring a little green into their home.
Bracale suggested shopping for a tree early to get the best pick. Smaller potted trees and artificial trees are options, although artificial trees also are subject to supply chain constraints.
Story by Raven Payne, Cronkite News