Despite a North America-wide shortage, there should be enough Christmas trees to go around this year, says a Winnipeg Christmas tree retailer.
Ray Dubois of Ron Paul Garden Centre said he got his first shipment of trees Tuesday morning – about a week later than in previous years. Warm weather in Quebec, which is where his supply comes from, pushed back the harvest.
“They have to be dormant,” Dubois said. “If they’re actively pushing and you (cut them down), you’re going to have problems with needle drop.”
Last year’s live tree shortage pushed up prices across the country, Dubois, says, but he expects a more balanced market this year. He attributes the surge to the pandemic – with fewer people travelling for the holidays, more were inclined to choose a live tree.
“That first year of COVID, demand was through the roof,” he said. “I think we sold out by Dec. 1, which had never happened.”
The trees come to Dubois individually wrapped. Dubois and his team take off the binding and “fluff’ the trees, then stand them up so customers can pick their favourite.
“Some people like fat trees, some people like skinny trees, some people like taller – there’s all sorts of manners that people like,” he said.
The balsam and Fraser fir trees take about seven years to reach “Christmas tree” height of six to eight feet. Dubois says he sorts his trees by type and size as well as by looks. Some people come looking for the “ugly” trees, which he keeps aside especially for those customers.
To get the most out of a live Christmas tree, Dubois recommends first setting up the tree without decorations and watering it frequently. This is to save the hassle of removing decorations should the tree’s reservoir run dry and the bottom need re-cutting. The tree should be acclimatized to its new environment in three days.
Dubois says a real tree is better for the environment than a plastic one. The trees produce oxygen during their lifespan, and they can be returned to the earth through wood chipping and tree recycling programs.
“People are sympathetic to that now, and they do care,” he said.
“It’s really convenient to go downstairs and put a bag on (a fake tree) and then come upstairs and pull the bag off,” he said. “But this is a little more involved and a little more fun.”