December 4, 2018 6:07 pm

Nova Scotia experiencing Christmas tree shortage after unusual freeze this spring

Tue, Dec 4: It's the time of the year when many people are looking for a “real” Christmas tree from their home. But a late freeze this spring damaged many of the trees being growing across Nova Scotia. As Whitney Middleton-Oickle reports, that's having an impact on the availability of trees this Christmas.

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It’s the time of year when many people are looking for a “real” Christmas tree to bring home.

But a late freeze this spring damaged many of the trees being grown in lots across Nova Scotia, and that could have an impact on how many trees are available this Christmas.

Nova Scotia Christmas tree growers harvest about a million trees a year, and most of them are for export. But some tree growers are recovering from a devastating late spring freeze earlier this year, and it’s having an effect on their bottom line.

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Grant Hogan, owner of Hogan Christmas Tree Farm, has been supplying Christmas trees to his community for 31 years. Hogan says he lost 35 to 50 per cent of his trees during the freeze earlier this year, and it’s affecting business.

“It affected the amount of people that bought trees because what’s burnt is like a little caterpillar, a little brown caterpillar, but if you hit it, it will fall off,” Hogan said. “But the tree doesn’t have the nice appearance it did without that and there are some that are just too far gone.”

WATCH: About half of all Christmas trees growing in N.S. damaged due to freeze

Some growers have had better luck.

“There was some minimal damage in some of the lots that were further inland,” says Stewart Hebb, an employee of Naugler’s Traditional Evergreen Tree Farm, “but he [Naugler] has a huge lot that’s out a bit closer in Conquerall bank area. It’s closer to the ocean, to the river and there wasn’t too much damage in there.”

Hebb says the Nauglers ship most of their trees out of the country and the freeze did not affect them.

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“He had really good quality trees to ship and we’ve got really good quality trees here,” said Hebb. “So the trees that had the frost will grow out of it, so in another year or two, those trees will be cut and shipped they won’t even know they had frost on them.”

The damage caused to the Christmas trees by the freeze is the first of its kind in 100 years, says the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia, and they provided support sessions for farmers. According to the council, the availability of real Christmas trees is down 40-50 per cent, but there is no shortage in Halifax.

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