A professor emeritus in Purdue University’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources says Christmas tree prices are between 12% and 24% higher this year. Daniel Cassens says the increase is due to the 2012 drought, in addition to inflation and higher spending for growers. “A lot of growers lost their young trees and even some old trees, so a lot of trees lost the potential market,” Cassens said.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Cassens said the drought has also caused many growers to exit the market.
“If you lose all your trees and you get a little older and you’re like, ‘Well, why would you start over?’ because it takes seven, eight years to produce that first tree if you start from scratch. So that’s part of the factor,” Cassens said. “The other factor is simply the tightness of the market. We lost breeders. There wasn’t much money for growing Christmas trees, not many people wanted to do it. So that just increased the tightness in the market.”
However, Cassens says relief may be coming, although it will take a while to get there.
He says the Real Christmas Tree Board, formerly known as the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, said there were about 28 million trees in the ground in the United States in 2018. That number increased by about 25% to 40.5 million trees in 2021.
“But it will be eight years before these trees come to market. But if they do, consumers will get a break, I think. You may want to change your search scope. You may want to change the style. You may want to change the quality level you want.”
With his wife, Vicki, Cassens runs Cassens Trees, a Christmas tree farm in West Lafayette that has won the Indiana Grand Champion Tree competition four times at the Indiana State Fair.
Cassens says the very best trees will have the premium price that has seen the greatest increase. But he does offer advice to consumers if they want to save a little more this year.
“Just choose a little less in terms of size, maybe a little less in terms of the traditional quality that growers are all thinking about. Every grower tries to produce the most perfect tree. But I’ve had people come here and pick what I think is a lot less than a perfect tree, send me a picture of it after they’ve decorated it, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that looks freakin’ good. It’s a unique tree.’”