A professor emeritus in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University says prices for Christmas trees this year are running between 12% and 24% higher. Daniel Cassens says in addition to inflation and higher expenses for growers, the increase dates back to the drought in 2012. “A lot of growers lost their young trees and even some mature trees, so that lost a lot of trees out of the potential marketplace,” said Cassens.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Cassens said the drought also led to a lot of growers leaving the market.
“If you lose all your trees, and you’re getting kind of elderly, and you say, ‘Well, why why start all over?’ because it takes seven, eight years to produce that first tree once you start over. So that’s part of the factor,” said Cassens. “The other factor is just tightness in the market. We lost growers. There hasn’t been a lot of money in growing Christmas trees, not a lot of people wanting to do it. So that just increased the tightness in the marketplace.”
However, Cassens says relief could be coming though it’ll take a while to get there.
He says the Real Christmas Tree Board, formerly known as the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, said about 28 million trees were in the ground in the United States in 2018. That number increased about 25% to 40.5 million trees in 2021.
“But it’s going to take eight years for those trees to come to market. But when they do, consumers are going to get a break, I think. You may want to change your your scope of what you’re looking for. You may want to change species. You may want to change the quality level that you’re looking for.”
Along with his wife, Vicki, Cassens runs Cassens Trees, a Christmas tree farm in West Lafayette that has won the Indiana Grand Champion Tree contest at the Indiana State Fair on four occasions.
Cassens says the very best trees will have the premium price that saw the largest increase. But he gives consumers advice if they’re looking to save a little more this year.
“Just pick something a little bit less in terms of size, maybe a little bit less in terms of traditional quality that the growers all think of. Every grower tries to produce the most perfect tree. But I’ve had people come out here and pick much less than a perfect tree in my opinion, send me a picture of it after they decorate it and I say, ‘Wow, that looks pretty darn good. It’s a unique tree.'”