The demand for fresh Christmas trees is high, but the supply is low again this year.
BC Christmas tree farmers are struggling to catch up after the heat dome of 2021 killed off many young saplings. That includes growers in the Okanagan. The number of farms is also shrinking as operators get out of the business.
At Grumpy’s Christmas Tree Farm in East Kelowna, owner Dick Lamberton says he has about 100 of his field trees available on the farm, but he has also brought in about 100 pre-cut trees from the Merritt area to meet demand.
The pre-cut trees have been available by appointment since earlier this month, and they are going fast. The farm opens on Saturday, Dec. 2. Lamberton says he expects to sell out in a matter of hours.
Despite the shortage affecting not just BC but most of North America, Lamberton says he has only raised his prices slightly in recent years to keep up with rising costs.
“I don’t believe in gouging people,” he says, noting it’s just $65 for a pre-cut and $85 for field trees at Grumpy’s.
The farm lost quite a few trees to the heat dome and has been planting new ones every year, but it takes time for them to grow to harvest size.
Over at Don-O-Ray Farms market, they have been selling pre-cut trees for the past three or four years.
“We want to make it one-stop shop for our customers,” says co-owner Jas Sanghera
He gets his trees from a farmer in the Salmon Arm area. This year, he expects to go through 700-800 and says they are very fresh because they are restocked about three times a week.
“So, when you go to a lot of the bigger franchises where you buy a tree it usually always is brought in from out of country. The tree is almost half done anyway.
"These are fresh cut, every few days,” notes Sanghera.
His trees sell for between $25 to $100, depending on the size. Several varieties are on offer from spruce to white pine to Fraser fir.
A freshly cut Christmas tree should last four to five weeks indoors, if watered regularly.
You can find a list of tree farms in the Thompson-Okanagan here.