Nation hit with Christmas tree shortage

Ottawa County

TALLMADGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Come Black Friday, John Vormittag title shifts from farmer to retailer.

That is traditionally when business for the second-generation Christmas tree farmer really takes off for the season. 

But in some parts of the country, a Grinch is lurking on tree farms and lots this year. 

The most popular Christmas trees are in short supply.

Wholesalers are scrambling to find farms that can supply them. 

“We do not do any wholesale,” Vormittag said. “But we do get a lot of calls. People are calling pretty regularly, looking for trees.”

Two factors, occurring years ago, contributed to the shortage. 

In 2008, the economy was tanking. 

Many farmers across the country decided to either quit the business or plant fewer trees. 

For Michigan, drought conditions in 2012 added to the problem.   

“They like rain once a week or twice a week,” Vormittag said as he inspected a Frasier fir, the most popular species of Christmas trees. 

Vormittag says 2012 was a “very bad” year for the trees. 

Since it takes about seven years from the time a sapling is planted until it hits the 6 to 7-foot mark, the point at which most are sold as Christmas trees, we’re just now seeing the impact of the problems of the past. 

That’s the bad news. The good news?

Since Michigan is the nation’s third-largest fresh Christmas tree producers, we get first dibs on the supply

Despite the national shortage of trees, Vormittag says, for the most part, Michigan tree buyers won’t notice it. 

“It might not be the size everybody wants, but there are going to be trees,” Vormittag said, who adds his prices won’t be impacted by the shortage. 

Still, demand will be high. 

When it comes to what goes under your tree, retailers say shop early for best selection.

This year, the same goes for Christmas tree sellers. 

“Come early, that is what I would say,” Vormittag said. 

People can find a local tree seller or learn more about the industry online.

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