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Christmas tree farms struggle to meet demand with national shortage

Posted at 3:55 PM, Nov 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-24 16:55:24-05

OWASSO, Okla. -- Crowds are already gathering at Owasso Christmas Tree and Berry Farm.

Owner Bill Jacobs said he's one of the lucky ones. In the Pacific Northwest the usual supply of six million trees went down to four this year, and only some farms got their typical order.

"We spent about seven days out there looking for trees for the future. Most of the farmers aren't expanding their business. They're growing what they've been growing for the last 15 years," Jacobs said.

With a limited supply and growing demand, staff do expect prices to be a little higher this year.

"We've tried to keep that as moderate as we can. Some of them have gone, for seven/eights locally 148 dollars and ours is $97.50. So there's a lot of price difference," Jacobs said.

The Owasso Farm was able to order about 3,000 trees, and grow another 3,000 on site. But shoppers out on Black Friday said they were disappointed with the selection of trees this year.

"In the past we would get a lot more triangular shaped trees. This year they're kind of sparse at the top and fuller at the bottom with holes all throughout. I think what happened is a lot of people came early this year and were able to get all the good ones before we got here," Mitch Carson said.

Jacobs said many farms in the Northwest and North Carolina are shifting toward other crops like hazelnut and hops, and this will have a long term impact.

"They're saying this shortage may last for the next 10 years or longer because when you plant a field of hazelnuts you don't go in and take those out and start planting Christmas trees again," he said.

Tree farm staff said the busiest time for shoppers is the weekend after Thanksgiving and the first weekend in December.

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