Those still aiming to get a live Christmas tree might have heard of a tree shortage this year.
Depending on what type of tree you're looking for and where you're looking, that could be the case.
“Customers come in and tell us that (they've heard of a shortage), about three or four years now,” said Ron Smith, who is helping run the Scout Troop 492 sale lot at Crysler Stadium in Independence. “We don't have that.”
A healthy mix of firs and pines is on hand at that lot at 23rd Street and Crysler Avenue, though many of the tallest ones sold quickly. Smith said the troop has worked with a supplier in Wisconsin for 20 years and reliably gets about 700 trees year.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the troop had sold about 250 trees in five days and had about 400 left, Smith said.
Smith said several other troops have been able to procure their normal number of trees for fundraisers, though Pat Pittman, also at the same site, said she's heard of some place in shorter supply.
“It depends on suppliers,” she said. “We're blessed with the people we've worked with.”
At the Fort Osage Farm and White Pine Lodge, “Farmer Bob” Luke said the Fraser fir trees he imported from Michigan are mostly gone, as he ordered fewer due to availability and cost and they tend to be the most popular tree.
He's sold more than 400 and is down to about 70, including just a couple at 10 feet or higher.
“Fraser firs, nationwide, there's a shortage,” Luke said. “That's been a few years. We had to cut our order back when this started.”
Michigan and Wisconsin are among the top five states where Christmas trees are harvested, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Oregon is the highest.
“It's in the magazines, and it retains its needles,” Luke said of the Fraser's popularity, adding that you could pick one up after Thanksgiving and, properly watered, keep it up into mid-January.
At the Lukes' tree farm, they grow Scotch, Virginia and white pines along with the Norway spruce, which has a similar appearance to the Fraser fir but doesn't retain needles as long, and they also imported some Douglas firs.
Many pines, if picked up now or recently, can start drying out by Jan. 1, Luke said, but the Virginia pine has been good seller since a fungus due to summer rain wiped out thousands of Scotch pines five years ago.
The Fraser fir shortage happened when Oregon started running out a few years ago, Luke said. That happened in part from less planting years earlier because of the recession and overabundant supply on hand. Tree sellers started turning to suppliers elsewhere, causing them to run short or turn away some prospective buyers, Luke said. At the same time, demand doesn't appear to have slackened.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, a survey response projection showed Americans purchased about 32.8 million live trees in 2018 compared with 27.4 million the year before. At the same time, artificial tree purchases also rose from 21.1 million to 23.6.
Last year at this point, Luke said, he'd sold all his fir trees and the tree farm closed early for the season because all the tall-enough pines were down. This year, he might last into the upcoming weekend.
The bottom line: Luke encourages prospective tree shoppers to not wait too long if they want much selection.