WASHINGTON AG NETWORK – GLENN VAAGEN – Those buying a fresh Christmas tree this year can expect higher prices, for a couple of reasons. First, during the recession roughly a decade ago, many Christmas tree growers across the Northwest had to shut down operations because of financial difficulties and a lack of demand. On top of that, Chal Landgren with Oregon State University said many of the existing growers in the Beaver State have been at the mercy of Mother Nature.
“We’ve also struggled with three years of pretty dry summers in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, we’ve had a lot of tree mortality, particularly with Nobel Fir, so we’re going to be suffering some of that shortage of trees for probably a little while.”
Landgren noted typical mortality rate is around 13%, because of the drought over the last three years, that figure has jumped to 80% in some cases. Another struggle for Christmas tree growers, like the rest of Agriculture, ongoing labor shortages.
Something new for growers, and consumers this year, Amazon’s entrance into the Christmas tree mail-order business. Landgren says the industry has looked at the idea of mail-order or direct order Christmas trees in the past, but the shipping costs were so high, most growers could not make it pencil out. But with Amazon involved that could change things.
“Most of the species that they’re working with this year are Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir, so that’s going to come largely from North Carolina, and the east coast, but if it’s successful there’s be growers out here that will be wanting to get into that as well.”
With 500 growers harvesting an estimated 5.2 million trees in 2017, Oregon is the number one state Christmas tree producing state in the U.S.