Connecticut farmers dealing with a region wide Christmas tree shortage
In Connecticut and across the East Coast, local Christmas tree farmers are still dealing with the effects from COVID.
Inventory is down compared to pre-pandemic levels, and farmers say there's no simple solution to the problem.
Trees aren't the only holiday tradition being affected.
The Maple Row Farm in Easton is among the local farms still catching up from COVID. Although the farm planted numerous Christmas trees in the Spring, it will take about 10 years for it to grow to average size.
“It takes a long, long time...anything from a dry year where we lose a lot of seedlings to COVID is a great example where we had unexpected turnout,” said J. Scott Edwards, of Maple Row Farm.
Cutting down your own Christmas tree is special for a lot of families and with the growth time that's needed there's no easy fix for fresh trees. COVID brought people out of the woodwork to get a real tree.
At Maple Row, it's estimated it'll take three-to-four years from now to get the number of trees back to pre-COVID levels.
Pat Leahy from Shelton says this is her 25th year buying at Maple Row.
“You know that when you cut your own tree down that it's fresh and it will last for a long time,” said Leahy.
In the area fresh cut trees range from about $85 to $150. News 12 Connecticut’s Jeff Derderian spoke with the farm and was told not to wait until the last minute to get a tree.
He also checked in with Lewis Christmas Tree Farm in Woodbury.
Judy Lewis is in her 56th year of selling fresh Christmas trees and also says COVID has everything backed up, meaning they have more growing to do to be fully stocked.
Another Christmas staple that's in big demand this year is being a Santa helper.
With holiday parties and a lack of new Santa helpers driven away when COVID was raging, means volunteers are in short supply this year.
“Hundreds of shovels still in stock, we have probably thousands of bags of ice melt…so we are completely ready,” Kevin Conboy, worker at Rocky’s Ace Hardware.
So if you go with the fresh cut tree experts say a key factor in it’s longevity is to get it into water right away.
If you are in the market for a pre-cut tree, the farmers we spoke to said there are currently no issues with supply.