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Low Supply, High Demand for Christmas Trees

- Christmas Music -

(Mom) “What do you think of this one, bud?”

(Kid) “It’s got to be tall and thick.”

(Mom to Dad) “It’s got to be tall and thick."

“We’re selling Christmas trees! I mean, this is a great business to be in. Most of the people that come in here are having fun, and they’re looking forward to celebrating the holidays,” said Jordan Risch, owner of Jordan’s Garden Center and Seasonal Market.

(Kid) “I mean it’s either that one or that one and maybe…”

“I enjoy watching the kids pick out their tree because it reminds me of when I was young, and also people tend to be a little happier,” said Barry Medicine Elk, owner of Broadway Christmas Trees.

(Mom, picking up tiny tree) “I found it! There’s our tree!”

(Kid) Laughs… “No, it’s not.”

“Overall, I just enjoy it,” said Medicine Elk.

“It’s just fun being a part of that,” said Risch.

Jordan Risch and Barry Medicine Elk have been selling Christmas trees for about a decade and a half, and they’ve seen a lot of changes in that time.

“Well, the Christmas tree market is always a little up and down, it’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen. Unfortunately, the past half a dozen years or so it’s kind of been a perfect storm of different problems that the growers have had,’ said Risch.

Drought, fires, smoke, and extreme high temperatures have had a big effect on tree farms across the northwest.

“Most of them are grown in what we call the Christmas tree belt. There’s a strip along Washington, Oregon and into northern California where all these trees kind of grow naturally. And they produce it just like any other crop,” said Risch.

“They plant these trees specifically, they grow them for 7 to 10 years, they cut them down and they come through and plant another crop.”

Both Risch and Medicine Elk said they were able to get enough trees, but there was a huge increase in shipping costs.

“The cost of shipping this year has gone up dramatically. Upwards of 200 to 300%,” said Risch.

“Yeah, the prices for being shipped were quite a bit higher, about 3 times higher,” said Medicine Elk.

High fuel prices have also added to shipping costs, and according to a report from the American Trucking Association, they’re short 80,000 truck drivers nationally.

“So, we opted to go a smaller route and have multiple small trucks bring them versus the big semis, and that saved us some money, too,” said Medicine Elk.

“Definitely the increased gasoline prices which again, trickles down to the person buying the tree, the consumer,” said Medicine Elk.

“Over the past few years, it’s just kind of a gradual increase of the cost of trees due to the law of supply and demand. They’re producing as many and the demands’ been going up,” said Risch.

Risch said he’s seen costs rise about 10% for normal sized trees. But for taller trees, 8 feet and above that take longer to grow, the increase has been as much as 2 or 300% over the last few years.

For the voice of Idaho Agriculture, I’m Paul Boehlke.