Farmers warn of NC Christmas tree shortage

(CBS North Carolina)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The day after Thanksgiving begins the busiest weekend for sales of live Christmas trees.

Triangle-area farmers said some people came shopping the previous weekend, wanting to decorate their homes when they host visitors for Thanksgiving, but Black Friday kicks off the busiest weekend, and the first weekend of December will be second.

It turns out it takes a decade’s worth of work for a month of having trees inside.

Mike Boyce is already planning for Christmas 2025. He will soon plant hundreds of three-year-old seedlings which he bought last year and has grown in pots for the past 12 months. They will go into the ground in January for seven years of nurturing.

“Then we shear trees in May and June, and mow, and fight insects the rest of the year until it’s time to harvest,” Boyce said.

He placed orders for additional trees in July to supplement his supply, and expects to have trees in stock up until a week to 10 days before Christmas.

Other farmers including Tommy Naylor, the owner of Northlake Christmas Trees and Nursery in Benson, said a decrease in planting a decade ago during the recession when people were purchasing fewer trees means there will be fewer trees this year.

“This all came as a result of the glut that has happened for a number of years, and that glut was consumed last year. What happened was that since the glut was consumed, the farmers in the mountains stopped planting so many trees, and that resulted in a little bit of the shortage that we’re seeing right now,” Naylor said.

“That will probably pick up in two to three years where the supply will be back to where the demand is,” he said.

“It’s very urgent to buy early this year because of the potential shortage. There is a potential shortage of Fraser Fir in the mountains and supply will be tight next year as well.”

Naylor expects that if people wait until a week before Christmas, he will have to turn them away. He said that’s exactly what happened last year.

Several Black Friday tree buyers said they hadn’t heard about a potential shortage. John Best brought his 8-year-old son Jaden to Naylor’s farm. It’s their annual tradition to get a live tree the day after Thanksgiving, but this was their first year to cut their own.

“It was very fun. Me and my son, we cut it down together, so that was nice,” Best said.

Nine-year-old Makayla Oddon joined her family for their annual trip to the farm to get a tree.

“Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, we come out and we pick a Christmas tree and we put it in our Nana’s house,” she said.

“She does not like the trees like this one back over here. She likes the ones with the long (needles), like a pine a tree.”

Her younger brother proudly carried a big stick to help measure the trees.

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