Heat cuts into Christmas tree supply in Thompson Okanagan

Xmas trees could be scarce

Cindy White

It’s Christmas tree season, and in the Okanagan, the early bird gets the pick of the crop.

Some growers have already ended sales for the season, and others, like Grumpy’s Christmas Tree Farm on June Springs Road in Kelowna, are reducing their hours.

Owner Dick Lamberton said the extreme heat in June/July killed about 500 seedlings that were planted in the past two years.

His farm is only open for sales this Saturday, November 27, starting at 9 a.m. He has limited sales, with a maximum of 200 trees, on a first-come, first-served basis. Some pre-cut Charlie Brown trees will also be available as well.

The real knock-on effect will come in the years ahead, when the lost trees would have been ready to harvest.

“At some point, I’ll have to say okay, I’m going to sell 100 and not more,” said Lamberton. “You have to manage the field. I have to make sure I control how many I sell.”

Over at Turner Family Tree Farm, they also lost a couple hundred seedlings in the extreme heat, but the trees being harvested this year are some of the best in recent memory.

They have already sold out for the season.

“At our farm, people come out, they have a look. They’ll walk around and then they decide on a tree and then they put the ribbons on,” explains Turner.

“There is always more demand for fresh, cut-your-own trees in the Okanagan than there is supply," said Jolene Palmer, chairperson for the Thompson Okanagan Christmas Tree Association (TOCTA). "Most of our growers are small u-cut operations which sell out every year, and damage from the heat dome this year has cut into that supply considerably.

“The public loves the experience of visiting a farm with the family, and then taking home a fresh tree which will last much longer than any of the pre-cut trees imported from back east or the US. We simply need more Christmas Tree farms in BC."

If you missed out at your local farm, the other option is to get a permit through the BC government website and go cut down your own Christmas tree on Crown Land. Just make sure you stay out of restricted areas and clean up behind yourself.

Also, only taking the top of a large tree is a no-no.

“If you’re out in the bush actually cutting a tree, it’s better to cut it down low and not cut the top off a tree because if you cut the top off a tree it’s not necessarily going to develop into anything. It could be just a mess,” cautions Turner.

Once you bring it in the house, make sure to give it plenty of water, and keep it away from heat sources that can dry it out.

Turner says a freshly cut Douglas Fir or other species should last for at least a month.

More Kelowna News