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Christmas tree shortage for a 2nd straight year in addition to price hike

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan may see Christmas Tree shortage and price hike this season'
Saskatchewan may see Christmas Tree shortage and price hike this season
WATCH ABOVE: It's that time of year for many families to start their holiday preparations. But in a long list of supply shortages, you can add Christmas trees and that's not all. As Kabi Moulitharan explains, some vendors are experiencing a double whammy. – Nov 24, 2022

In a long list of supply shortage issues, Christmas trees can be added to that list for a second straight year. But this year, some vendors say they are experiencing a double whammy due to inflation.

Nikki van Duyvendyk is one of the owners of Dutch Growers Garden Centre, a Saskatoon business that sells real Christmas trees.

Van Duyvendyk said since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Saskatchewan residents’ desire to own a real tree has grown. She was hoping to buy more than her usual amount, but her plans were chopped.

“We’re absolutely in the same position as we were last year,” she said.

“And obviously, trees take a long time to get to this level to be able to sell on this. So … we’re still in the same boat as last year.”

Read more: B.C. Christmas tree supply chopped by drought, decline in growers

Shirley Brennan, executive director of the Canadian Christmas Trees Association, said the decline of the trees is due to the lack of producers available to harvest them.

“We’re seeing retirement with no succession plans,” she said. “The young people aren’t going into farming.

“Our producers are retiring, or God forbid, they’re passing away. And nobody is maintaining that farm as a Christmas tree farm.”

Brennan explained that Christmas tree farms currently take up about 50,000 acres across Canada. This is a decrease from 70,000 acres, which she said is a loss of about 30,000 trees.

She said Christmas trees take up about 10 years to grow before they can be cut for use, so it will take some time to recover.

Read more: A Christmas tree shortage in New Brunswick and how it’s not a one-year fix

George McKay, the owner of Saskatchewan Christmas tree farm McKay Tree Farm, told Global News Western Canada may be impacted more than the East Coast as there are few growers.

“Now I realize the Christmas tree farming is not big in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is better known for other crops than they are for Christmas trees,” Brennan said.

“But that’s why you see precut come in all the time. And that’s where the information from across Canada plays a role. In Saskatchewan, because you are bringing in precut, whether they come from Montreal or Quebec or Nova Scotia or B.C., that’s being impeded by this issue of demand and not having trees available,” she explained.

South Pine Tree Farm told Global News that within their work in the Prairies, tree growers are not able to meet the demand at chains and local businesses. Those businesses may need to consider getting trees elsewhere.

But this year, Christmas trees also fell victim to price hikes due to inflation.

“We were actually really surprised when we got our invoice for the trees. The freight has gone up and as well as the trees,” van Duyvendyk said.

South Pine Tree Farm is facing a similar issue.

“We as a business increased our prices approximately 5% to cover the cost of gas as we deliver trees to our customers and bring them in from a grower about an hour south of Saskatoon,” an e-mail statement read.

Brennan says if anyone is passionate about agriculture and Christmas trees and may want to consider becoming a grower, to connect with the Canadian Christmas Trees Association.

Read more: Winnipeg Christmas tree supply to meet demand this year despite North American shortage, supplier says

As for van Duyvendyk, she mentioned an alternative.

“People just have to choose whether they want to buy a live tree this year or, you know, invest in an artificial tree and go that route,” she said.

Van Duyvendyk recommends folks consider buying trees early. She provided some tips on how to maintain it through the Christmas holidays.

If the plan is to not put up the tree right away, do not cut the trunk off and keep it outside away from the sun.

If the plan is to stash it in the garage, cut off the trunk and keep it in water.

“It’s so, so important to make a fresh cut on that trunk and open up those pores and then put it directly in water,” she explained. “And just remember that within the first two days it is going to use a ton of water. And so if you let it dry out once, those pores will seal up and you’ll notice you’re all of a sudden your tree won’t be grabbing any of the water.”

And remember to purchase a tree bag for easy disposal.

“You won’t get all the needles coming into your house. Then what you do is you pull it down and keep it under the tree and then put your skirt over top and that’ll help protect your floor,” she said.

“And then when you’re done with your tree, all you do is take that tree, break, pop it up. And the trees are very dry. It’ll make such a mess of your home. So you pull that tree back up, tie it up and drag your tree out and it’s clean.”

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