If a live tree is part of Christmas traditions, be prepared to shop early and pay more, as a variety of factors are contributing to an overall shortage of trees this holiday season.
Mike Day of Doveside Christmas Tree Farm in Courtenay said severe weather such as the heat dome last year and the draught this summer has not only affected trees this year but will do so in future years – up to eight years from now.
“What we’ve been seeing in particular with Covid, is that there has been a much higher demand for trees. In a regular year, we usually sell up to 400 trees a year. This year, we’re expecting about 120 trees.”
Day added the farm essentially stopped offering pre-tagged tree sales a few weeks ago. For anyone cutting their tree, he suggested cutting them a week later than usual as needle retention may not be as good as in the past.
An increase in fertilizer prices and additional maintenance due to heat and lack of precipitation have also contributed to the rising cost. Day explained more maintenance and labour are required to look after the trees, as they have not been as robust as in past years.
“A good example is to look at the apple crops we’re getting at the grocery stores from Washington State. They are much smaller – and cost more – compared to past years, and the crops are much more limited. The same thing happens with Christmas trees.”
In the spring, farmers shape the trees for the coming year and the stress of shaping forces the trees to densify. This year Day said because of weather and environmental factors, that didn’t happen, and this year trees are generally not as tall or as dense as they usually are.
“We are at the whim of the weather.”
Many Christmas trees sold in British Columbia actually come from the east coast of Canada, where the majority of Christmas tree farms are located, he said. For those wondering why there are not more farms locally, Day noted unlike traditional farming, Christmas tree farms are a long-term investment.
“There’s about a 10-year wait until you see the first crop.”
Doveside Christmas Tree Farm is sold out of pre-tagged u-cut trees, however, there are a limited number of pre-cut trees that may be available beginning Dec. 7. Day said they may not match the quality of past years, but for those interested, he suggested calling or texting the farm between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 250-218-3332.