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Christmas tree farmers experience shortage due to 2008 recession

Farmers told WAAY 31 now that the economy is back, they are planting more trees again.

Posted: Nov 20, 2018 5:23 PM
Updated: Nov 20, 2018 7:16 PM

The 2008 recession is to blame for a Christmas tree shortage. Picking out a Christmas tree is a family tradition for many, but with the shortage, it could mean increasing costs for consumers.

High Country Christmas Trees said it's been bringing Christmas to Huntsville for the last 35 years. They transport trees from Boone, North Carolina to the Tennessee Valley, but 10 years ago, the shaky economy took a toll on the Christmas tree industry. The trees that Schneider sells take 10 to 15 years to grow, which is why there's a shortage now.

"Prices have gone up a little bit. People are scrambling. They're asking a lot more money for trees now that there is a shortage," Greg Schneider with High Country Christmas Trees said. "In the recession, 2008, a lot of the neighbors were just unable, did not have the cash to put into replanting trees, so a lot of people were not able to plant trees."

George Brown with Valley Head Christmas Tree Plantation grows all of his own trees but says he saw a decline in the availability of trees over the last few years.

"He let me know that we had to get our order in early, because he was not taking any new customers," Brown said.

After Hurricane Michael ripped through North Carolina, many are questioning whether that had an impact on the shortage. Brown said it didn't directly impact the current crops.

"Those are very temporary events. They will have an impact, yes, when we have a drought. A serious, serious drought, we may lose a year's planting," Brown said.

Despite the shortage, families are sticking with tradition and picking out the best live trees they can find. John King and his family have been picking out trees from Valley Head Christmas Tree Plantation for the last 14 years, and he said they would travel somewhere else to get one if they had to.

"Some of the places that we've lived, we've had to travel quite a distance to get to a tree farm, so I can't imagine we'd do anything else," King said.

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