How climate change has caused a national shortage of Christmas trees

Photo by Washington State Department of Agriculture, from Flickr

Tyler Chalfant | December 24th, 2019

The U.S. has seen a shortage of Christmas trees in recent years, driving up prices and limiting options for holiday consumers. This scarcity can be attributed in part to the lingering effects of the 2008 recession, which forced many growers out of business. As Christmas trees take between 6 to 12 years to mature, it takes time for the industry to respond to shifting consumer preferences and demands.

However, the scarcity has been augmented by the effects of climate change. Drought conditions killed large amounts of trees in Oregon, the nation’s leading producer of Christmas trees, last year. This year’s floods have added to droughts as another weather condition harming newly planted saplings. Warmer temperatures in the summer and winter are worsening pressure from disease and pests, making trees less resilient. In Canada, spring frost and heavy snows have killed saplings as well.

These extreme weather patterns are likely to become more frequent and severe as a result of climate change, producing conditions that are more unpredictable and risky for farmers, including those growing Christmas trees.

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