A shortage of Christmas trees this holiday season could drive up prices

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Does it take you awhile to get into the holiday spirit? If you don’t make picking out your Christmas tree part of your Black Friday weekend shopping this year, you might not end up with one at all.

For many picking out the perfect live Christmas tree is a holiday tradition.

“I want the one that’s medium sized and it’s filled with leaves," Lily Bouigeis said Monday on a trip to Midland Holiday Pines for Christmas photos.

For the Wegmans, Christmas trees are a labor of love.

“We’re out there in July trimming trees to make them look like Christmas trees; we are here in the snow and sleet when we are trying to sell them,” Judy Wegman said.

It maybe why there aren’t as many tree farms in Kansas City as there used to be. S

ome of those farms won’t have as many trees as they’d like for you cut to down this year. Trees take at least seven years to grow big enough for Christmas.

“Seven years ago is when we had those 10-degree days all the way through August, and we actually hand-watered all these trees to keep them alive," Wegman said.

But something else dried up about that same time several years ago -- the economy. Fewer farmers nationwide planted the years right after the 2008 recession.

“We got calls from our purveyors in Wisconsin and North Carolina saying get your orders in early because if they don’t, we may not be able to meet your needs," Wegman said.

The Wegmans got their order in, but now are back on the phone.

“I’ve been calling them continuously that load was supposed to was supposed to be here last week, it still is not even loaded," Phil Wegman said of an awaited shipment of Frasier Firs and White Pines from Michigan.

A trucker shortage combined with many trucks still shipping supplies to hurricane affected areas, has led to multiple Christmas tree farms and lots in the area still waiting on part of their shipment. Even with that shipment the Wegmans doubt they’ll be open more than the weekend after Thanksgiving and the next one.

The National Christmas Tree Farm Association says you can expect to pay about 5 to 10 percent more on live trees this year because of the shortage.