Prices up, selection down: B.C. grapples with Christmas tree shortage

Christmas tree lots reporting shortages
WATCH: Christmas tree lots reporting shortages

If a live Christmas tree is an important part of your holiday tradition, you may want to hurry to get one, or be ready to shell out a little more than usual.

Growers and sellers across B.C. are reporting a shortage of trees that is manifesting itself across the continent.

Ken Schrauwen, with Art Knapp in Port Coquitlam, told Global News the problem has been a decade in the making.

How the U.S. Christmas tree shortage affects Canada
How the U.S. Christmas tree shortage affects Canada
“Growers, about 10 years [ago], slowed down planting because of the recession, so now we’re catching up that and a lot of growers have stopped growing because they weren’t getting money for the trees,” he said.
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Schrauwen said most of the trees sold in B.C. come from Washington state, with some grown locally.

READ MORE: Bah humbug! There is a shortage of Christmas trees in Ontario

B.C. isn’t the only one feeling the shortage.

Sellers like Brock Friesen with Creekside Home and Garden near Edmonton, said this year he’s been forced to look far afield.

“I started looking and I looked in Michigan and Ontario and Quebec,” Friesen said.

“I didn’t quite go to Nova Scotia to look, but almost everyone that I contacted either had very limited supply or wasn’t even entertaining customers.”

Friesen said that has resulted in prices going up, and selection of varietals going down.

Canadians being warned of potential for Christmas tree shortage
Canadians being warned of potential for Christmas tree shortage

Schrauwen said Knapp ordered their trees last year to ensure stock and hold prices steady.

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“We try to keep our prices close to what they were last year, but a lot of people have raised them quite a bit because they’re having trouble getting the trees they need,” he said.

And the problem could get worse before it gets better.

READ MORE: Edmonton business feels ripple effect of Christmas tree shortage

Several Christmas tree purveyors told Global News the tree farming industry has suffered from a lack of new blood.

“All the established farms that have been around for 50 or 60 years, the kids aren’t interested in doing it anymore, and so these farms are all starting to close now,” said Terry Lynch with Frosty’s Family Christmas Tree Farm in Langley.

“Up in this area, there’s probably five farms in the last five or six years that have just closed down because nobody wants to take them over.”

How to decorate the perfect Christmas tree
How to decorate the perfect Christmas tree

Frosty’s is a farm that offers families the “U-Cut” experience of chopping down their own tree.

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But Lynch said he worries his business is one of a dying breed, and that the future will see most, if not all, customers heading to a big box outlet to get their tree.

It’s a concern shared by Ryan Murphy of Murphy’s Tree Farm.

“You have to be a bit nutty to get into this, because it’s 10 to 12 years for some of the slowest varieties,” he said.