Christmas tree shoppers will have lots of healthy, live conifers to choose from this season, but a few years down the road that may not be the case.
This summer’s lack of rain caused the demise of many tender seedlings that were planted in the spring.
Bob’s Trees in Galway, a farm that grows between 300 and 400 acres of Christmas trees, lost thousands of seedlings because of the drought, according to Doug Eaton, one of the owners. Extra trees will likely be planted this coming spring to make up for a portion of those that were lost, he said, but in 10 or 12 years, when the lost trees were scheduled to mature, there could still be a diminished supply.
The trees shoppers will choose from this season have been in the ground for about 12 years and were hardy enough to withstand the poor growing conditions, he said.
Bob’s has already sold two trees, even though the official opening day for the season isn’t until Friday.
This year’s prices will not be affected by the losses suffered this past spring, Eaton noted. Pre-cut table trees will be priced at $10, and taller ones will range up to $55 or more, depending on variety and size.
“People can find a really nice tree for $35, pre-cut,” Eaton said.
Cut-your-own trees will cost $45 for any variety or size.
Goderie’s Tree Farm in Johnstown, which grows between 200 and 250 acres of Christmas trees, lost roughly 50 percent of the seedlings planted this past spring, said Jared Goderie, son of farm owner Peter Goderie. “We put in 10,000 trees and we lost about 4,600 to 5,000,” he estimated.
There’s no plan to plant extra trees this coming spring to make up for the loss, but Goderie isn’t too concerned about how that will affect the farm’s crop in the future. He is concerned, however, with the major increase in the deer population, brought about by this past winter’s mild weather. This coming winter, even more deer than usual will likely be out looking for food, and although conifers aren’t a favorite, deer will eat them if they get hungry enough.
Goderie’s Tree Farm will start selling trees the day after Thanksgiving and prices will range from $24 to around $70 for the tallest ones.
The seedlings planted this past spring at River Bend Christmas Tree Farm in Lake Luzerne “all toasted,” according to co-owner Roseann Carpenter. Still-vulnerable seedlings put in the ground the year prior were also lost to the drought, along with some of the more mature trees.
The trees for sale at the farm this season incurred no damage, but there still might not be enough to go around. River Bend Farm has been experiencing high demand because several nearby family-owned tree farms have gone out of business, said Jim Carpenter, Roseann Carpenter’s son.
“We’ve already been feeling like we’ve been in a shortage and it’s just going to get tighter. Demand is outpacing supply,” he said. “Get here early or the selection [will be] limited.”
The farm will have trees for sale starting Friday. Prices have not been set yet, but Jim Carpenter estimated the trees will cost $45 or more.
Brian Mayes’ technique of planting seedlings in fall has paid off at Majestic Tree Farm in Selkirk, where he devotes about 20 acres to Christmas trees. The seedlings put in the ground in the fall of 2011 are all fine, he reported.
Majestic Tree Farm will start selling cut-your-own Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving. The trees will cost $38 for any size.