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Christmas Tree Sellout in WNC?

The holiday season is in full swing, and for many, that means it’s time to find a  Christmas tree.    Here in Western North Carolina, the experience is a bit like shopping for toys in Santa’s workshop.  The region produces the majority of Christmas trees for the state and is the second biggest producer in the country. 

But if you are hoping to cut your own tree this year, you may be out of luck.  BPR's Helen Chickering reports 

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and the Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree farm in Waynesville is packing a Black Friday crowd.  Against a backdrop of rolling hills, masses of people weave their way through the maze of fir trees.

“I think that’s the one”

Among them, Rachel and Tyler Rochefort, who are here vacationing from South Florida, with their 18 month old daughter Sydney, 

HC: Do you think you found one?   We think so, says Tyler Rochefort.

HC: How do you pick? Do you have criteria?

“The height of our house, “laughs Rachel Rochefort.

“And the bed of our truck,” laughs Tyler.  

A few cuts with a chain saw, and the tree is ready for Florida.

“This is our big weekend after Thanksgiving, everybody wants to put their tree up, ” says Darren Nicholson who works with Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm and also  happens to play with the award winning Bluegrass band Balsam Range. Nicholson says the cut and carry farm has around five thousand fir trees ready for the season. 

“We’ve sold out early the last couple of years, we’ll probably sell out early again this year. “

And they did much earlier than even they expected.  By the end of Thanksgiving weekend, the choose and cut lot was empty, which raises the question, can this year’s Christmas tree supply meet demand?

“I’m very hesitant to use the word shortage, because we still have trees for sale,” says Bill Glen, the Western North Carolina marketing specialist for the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.   Glen says inventory is lower this season, and prices a bit higher, in part because of the 2008 Great Recession.  

“And people did not plant as many trees, takes about ten years to grow these trees, so we are just now starting to see the impact of the reduced plantings.”

Glen says, many cut and carry farms, like Boyd Mountain, sold out in record time this season, but Farmers markets, nurseries, grocery stories and independent tree lots in the area still have a good supply, at least for now.

For BPR News, I’m Helen Chickering