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Increased demand creates 'perfect storm' for Christmas tree shortage

Christmas tree farm
Kabir Bhatia
Robert Stehli, owner of Wintergreen Tree Farm in Mantua, says beginning with the Christmas season last year, the first during the pandemic, more people were interested in cutting their own trees. Now demand has surpassed the supply of trees.

Christmas trees are selling out fast this year, as growers across the state are experiencing more demand than ever. This issue of supply outstripping demand has been a long time in the making.

Jeff Greig is the vice president of the Ohio Christmas Tree Association and owner of Greig Christmas Tree Farm in Willoughby Hills. He sold out of trees just five days after opening for the season.

“Eight years ago there was no way to predict that we would have this kind of demand for trees,” he said.

Christmas trees take seven to 10 years to grow, making it difficult for growers to pivot quickly to serve higher rates of demand. Although people may be wondering whether to blame supply chain issues, Robert Stehli, owner of Wintergreen Tree Farm in Mantua, thinks the main issue is the growing demand for live Christmas trees.

“I think it is growing, and unfortunately that hit just as the same time that the supply was kind of on a low ebb,” he said.

Stehli says the growth in demand began last year, when more people wanted to get out of the house during the pandemic to cut down their own tree.

Stehli on more people wanting real Christmas trees

“I think it’s almost like the perfect storm for right now because there is an increase in demand," he said. "I think a lot of younger people at least want to try this out, and I think there’s so few opportunities today for people to get out with their family and do something outdoors that this is really a great thing. And they love doing it.”

Both Greig and Stehli worry what this season means for the future of Christmas tree farms, as growers’ dwindling supply could impact years to come.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media. A Northeast Ohio native and lifelong listener of public radio, Abigail started in public radio as a news intern at WKSU. She graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Kent State University.