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Long anticipated problems could lead to major Christmas tree shortage this year

christmas-tree-farm.jpg
Delaware Public Media
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Planning on getting a real Christmas tree this year? Expect major shortages and price increases.

A shift in career preferences has created a void in the ranks of Christmas tree farm owners in recent years.

Now, the effects of that shift are starting to be felt more fully, as a lack of available trees is expected to translate into huge price increases and supply difficulties.

Don Hallowell has run Don’s Tree Farm in Sussex County for over 13 years, and says he’s seeing far more people retiring from the tree farm industry than getting into it.

“So it’s a snowball effect,” he said. “I mean this snowball has been rolling down the hill for years and years and years. And the bad thing is right now, I’m not sure that the snowball has hit bottom yet. The snowball might still be rolling, I don’t think we’re at the bottom yet.”

Hallowell adds issues with other parts of the supply chain, particularly a lack of truck drivers, is driving up the cost of transporting the trees from where they’re grown high up in the mountains.

Hallowell hopes his farm won’t be one of them, but anticipates many others will run out earlier than usual.

“You’ll see places that are selling trees and — they’re gonna be shut down after the first weekend of December cause they don’t have any more trees to sell,” said Hallowell.

So he says if folks plan to get a live Christmas tree this year, Thanksgiving weekend may be their only bet.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.