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Christmas tree shortage? Not around here

Tree sales at Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt’s Nursery & Orchard are not seeing any changes in sales due to a national Christmas tree shortage. Photo submitted by Leah Nesbitt-Miller

Consumers may want to consider where they are buying their Christmas trees this year as the number of trees available at the national level is less than usual.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association website, consumers may face higher priced Christmas trees this year, as there are not as many trees available.

"Recent price increases are due to a tighter supply of harvestable size Christmas trees," states an article on the National Christmas Tree Association website. "The current tight supply situation results from fewer trees being planted 7 to 10 years ago."

The website said fewer trees being planted was due to multiple reasons. Seven to 10 years ago there was an excess of trees which along with the recession drove down the price of Christmas trees, resulting in fewer trees being replanted those years.

However, not all local Christmas tree sellers are having shortage issues.

Leah Nesbitt-Miller, executive chef and marketing director of Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt's Nursery & Orchard, said they have not had any issues with their Christmas tree sales this year. She said their sales have been pretty consistent with other years.

Nesbitt-Miller said they started selling Christmas trees in 2008 and get their Christmas trees from Evergreen Nursery in Durand. She believes because they are a local business and do not compete at a national level, they have not seen any impact from the shortage.

Scott Brenner, co-owner of Rush River Tree Farm in Maiden Rock, said they have not been impacted by the national shortage either. He said part of the reason is they just planted their first trees in 2007 and have only been selling Christmas trees for the past four years.

Brenner said this year, as in previous years, they have continued to increase their tree sales. He does not believe this has to do with a local shortage, but just with more people learning about their business.

Being a local tree operation, his business was not hit with the shortage issue as large operations may have been.

"I think big farms really got hit around recession," Brenner said.

While Brenner said their local operation was not affected by the current shortage, he has seen how a late frost in Wisconsin can impact his trees. In 2016 a late frost in the spring prevented them from selling a number of trees that year. While the trees do not die, they have to grow an extra year before harvesting.

Shopping local and supporting local businesses, Nesbitt-Miller said, is one of the reasons they were not impacted by the national shortage.

"We are an experience, other places are you just go pick up a tree," Nesbitt-Miller said. "Once people have bought a tree from us here they keep coming back."

Besides getting a Christmas tree, Nesbitt's offer customers a chance to partake in events at the nursery such as a spruce tree maze, play area, bonfire, holiday music and a place customers can eat.

Brenner said that he has heard customers saying they are going back to real trees instead of artificial trees and this may be part of the reason for an increase in sales. He also said 80-90 percent of their customers prefer to cut their own Christmas trees as part of their buying experience.

Part of the reason people keep coming back is the quality of local trees is better than those sometimes found at bulk Christmas tree sellers, Nesbitt-Miller said. Nesbitt's trees are cut one week before Thanksgiving, whereas trees that have to be shipped are cut much earlier and will not last as long once customers get the tree home.

Nesbitt-Miller believes people like to buy local and support local businesses.

"It's such a family affair," Nesbitt-Miller said about buying a Christmas tree directly from the farm. "And people like to stay in the area."