WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Foresters had been warning about a shortage of Christmas trees since July. Industry spokespeople explain that growers over-planted in prosperous times leading up to 2008. After the recession hit, they planted less, either to scale-down to demand or because they couldn’t afford to plant more. Nationwide, the acreage of Christmas trees planted dropped 30% in the last decade. Since it takes Christmas trees about ten years to mature, the shortage was only hitting the market for the 2017 holiday season. Expected to last another decade, it will continue to hit particularly hard, as demand has resumed with growing consumer confidence. North Carolina’s industry was already dominated by large, corporate growers, and the pinch squeezed out a lot of smaller businesses. Even so, the state remained second only to Oregon in growing Christmas trees. There, where the shortage is worse, former Christmas tree farmers have turned to cultivating grapes for wine and cannabis instead. Because of the scarcity, it was estimated consumers would pay 10% more for their trees in 2017; the cost of Christmas trees has doubled since 2008.