School Closings And Delays

Experts Warn of Christmas Tree Shortage, Local Farmers Disagree

MAHONING TOWNSHIP -- This holiday season, some experts are warning people about a shortage of Christmas trees and higher prices.

The National Christmas Tree Association is warning customers to get their trees early this year and be ready to pay more.

Experts are warning that this year, there's a shortage of Christmas trees and that is driving up prices between five and 10 percent.

However, tree farmers and sellers we spoke with say there's no need to worry.

Jerry George of Palmerton has been selling trees and wreaths near Lehighton every holiday season for the last 15 years. He doesn't believe there's a reason for people in our area to worry.

"I don't think we have a shortage in our area here, maybe different areas might have a shortage, but not right here," he said.

Others we spoke with agree.

"No Christmas tree shortage, so I don't know where they got that, but I think they just said that to get people on the move and get some real trees," said Emily George of Palmerton.

According to experts at the National Christmas Tree Association, the reason for the shortage is the economic recession back in 2008. Back then, the demand for Christmas trees wasn't as high, so bigger trees weren't cut down and there was no room to plant new trees. That's why we're having the problem now, but the people at Hill Farms near Lehighton say that's not the whole picture.

"What really took place was there was too many trees planted. Christmas trees are like any other crop. We have ebb and flow to our supply and demand. And we planted too many and some people went out of business because there wasn't enough demand," said Jeff Hill, Hill Farms.

Hill's family farm is made up of 250 acres of Christmas trees. He's been doing this 40 years. The farm has been around for nearly 80. He says prices have increased slightly this year, but that's not unusual.

"There's plenty of trees to go around. There's going to be spotty shortages. It's going to depend on where you're at. We have 30 wholesale accounts, five states, and everyone got what they wanted, so there's no reason to do anything crazy like go out and buy an artificial tree. There will be trees around," Hill said.

It takes about 10 years for a Christmas tree to grow to a height most people want, about 7 feet. That is why what happened in 2008 is affecting the market now.

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