Tree lots, farms around the Ozarks see a shortage of Christmas trees

Published: Dec. 5, 2020 at 9:43 PM CST
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LEBANON, Mo. (KY3) - It is that time of year where trees, lights and decorations start going up.

As families start searching for the perfect Christmas tree, some tree lots and farms here in the Ozarks and across the country say they are experiencing a bit of a shortage.

That does not mean business is not booming for some.

“We’ve already sold over 500 trees this year,” owner of Cole’s Tree Farm Jessie Huntley said. ”We have had almost as many this year as we had total last year, and it’s really took a toll on the number of trees in the field for people to look at.”

The list of causes for a shortage could go on. Huntley said one reason includes diseases.

“We have had a fungus go through our Scotch Pine called ‘Brown Spot’ and it seems to knock the needles off the trees and they are kind of bare,” he said.

From west coast wildfires to diseases, a shortage of trees isn’t uncommon nationally. The trend could mean fewer trees on farms and in local tree lots.

On top of the usual things that might cause tree shortages, Jessie Huntley said it also seems like there are more people out this year.

”I have people coming from Joplin, Fort Leonard Wood, Branson, Sedalia and Jefferson City even,” he said.

Huntley said part of that is likely tied to the pandemic.

”[People are] more interested in getting real trees,” he said. “Just wanting to get outside from being quarantined inside all the time.”

More interest has led some lots to even order more.

”We’re short a lot of trees here most likely because there are a lot more of an influx of people buying like us buying bigger amounts of trees,” said Forrest Vay, who helps sell trees with Springfield Boy Scout Troop 24.

Vay said for many people, buying a real tree this year is one of the few ways to try and “normalize” a year unlike any other.

“Everyone wants to feel normal this year because we have had nothing normal this year,” he said. “This is our easiest way to feel normal is with Christmas having a Christmas tree instead of a fake one.”

Tree-hopping marks a first time endeavor for some.

”Kind of fun, never had been to a tree farm before,” tree shopper John Gan said. “Usually [we] just go dig through Cedars at the house and stuff.”

For many families, the chance to find a tree gives everyone a nice swing at a good time.

”John did two times I did the most of it,” Tucker Gan said.

And when everything is all said and done, many are just looking forward to some much needed holiday spirit.

”We have a bunch or ornaments of us on it and a bunch of lights,” Tucker Gan said.

Jessie Huntley said his farm has already ordered nearly 3,000 trees for the spring to help with the shortage.

“You have to plan five to six years in advance to know what’s going to happen,” he said. “This year has been just extraordinary.”

Huntley said he thinks his tree farm will likely sell several more this year than last year. He said he recommends people buy their trees sooner rather than later, otherwise there may be less to choose from.

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