If you’re on the West Coast of the U.S. this holiday season you may find that your Christmas tree is more expensive this year than last thanks to the devastating effects of the ongoing drought on agriculture — and that includes tree farms.
Christmas tree farmers report that the four-year drought—California’s worst in more than a century—has substantially stunted the growth of many adult trees and killed seedlings outright. Drought in Oregon, the nation’s largest supplier of Christmas trees, has had a similar effect on that state’s crop.
“Ninety percent of the seedlings we planted last year died,” Christmas tree farmer Jim Beck told The San Francisco Chronicle. “We simply couldn’t get water to them in time.”
While Beck said he’s decided to absorb the financial hit rather than raise prices on his customers, other sellers are taking the opposite approach.
“Trees are indeed more expensive this year due to the drought,” Whole Foods Regional Produce Coordinator Taryn Wolf told the Chronicle. “Fewer trees were planted and the wholesale cost rose significantly.”
Farmers are hoping this year’s El Niño weather system, which is projected to bring more rain to the region, helps ease this dry spell.
“I hope these weather reports are right,” Beck said, “but I’m not holding my breath.”
Meanwhile, a shortage of Christmas trees in North Carolina–another big producer–is reportedly causing prices to rise in the Southeast as well.