Folks looking to buy Christmas trees for the holiday season this year best not delay.
Some Christmas tree wholesalers in Oregon and Washington suffered the effects of drought this summer with intense heat damaging or destroying some of their stock. In addition, in 2008, because of the recession, some growers could not afford to plant as many trees. It takes Christmas trees 10 to 13 years to mature, on average, and it’s that crop that is ready to harvest this year.
“The summer heat wave is going to be a problem,” said Kay Patterson, co-owner of Patt’s Garden Center in Clarkston.
“It was so hot everywhere that the shortage will be more because (the trees) don’t look good enough to sell.”
Patt’s started receiving evergreen boughs and cut Christmas trees last week, so its customers will have some to choose from.
“The company we get trees from is in western Washington and we will have cut trees and fresh evergreen wreaths,” Patterson said. “It will just be a smaller number than usual.”
Geno Bonnalie, of Lewiston, is in charge of the All Saints Catholic School Christmas tree sale at the Salvation Army parking lot on 21st Street. For reasons he doesn’t understand, his group will likely have more trees this year than in the past and the prices are likely to be the same.
“Last year we had around 700 (Christmas trees) and this year we’re getting 1,000,” Bonnalie said. “I’m not sure why. Our relationship with the tree suppliers in central Washington is pretty good. I just hope we can sell them all.”
The All Saints tree sale is a major fundraiser for the school and usually fetches between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. Bonnalie said it’s a lot of work to hold the sale each year, which is scheduled to begin today.
“It definitely takes a lot of volunteers to make it happen,” Bonnalie said.
Besides the shortage of trees, Patterson said rising fuel and transportation costs also are expected to make trees more expensive this year.
“A 6-foot grand fir last year was $40,” she said. “This year, I don’t know what the freight will be and it depends on what type of tree.”
Six-foot grand firs and nobles run between $60 and $100, depending on the species, and Patterson expects the price to be about $10 more this year.
Bonnalie said his group is planning on about the same prices this year as last. Seven- to 8-foot noble firs run about $90 each and grand firs of the same height are about $70. Douglas firs and Nordmann pines in the 6-to-7-foot range run about $80.
Patt’s Garden Center at 1280 Port Drive in Clarkston is open Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The All Saints tree sale at 1220 21st St. in Lewiston will be open all day today and other weekend days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Weekday hours are from 3-8 p.m.
Trees are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, Bonnalie said.
People can also cut their own Christmas trees on federal lands by obtaining permits online.
Permits that allows as many as three Christmas trees to be harvested from the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in north central Idaho are free but a $2.50 process fee will be charged. They can be purchased at bit.ly/3oiP3e7 or by visiting recreation.gov.
Permits for tree cutting on the Umatilla National Forest in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon cost $5 plus a $2.50 processing fee and there is a limit of one tree per household. Permits are available online at bit.ly/2JCqs33.
People also may visit forestproducts.blm.gov to purchase permits that allow the harvest of as many as three Christmas trees from Bureau of Land Management property in northern Idaho. Those permits are $5.
Anyone who cuts trees from federal land is advised to review rules associated with the areas covered by their permits. For example, those cutting on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest are asked to not harvest within 200 feet of well-traveled roads, streams, campgrounds or other recreation sites. Trees cannot be harvested from designated wilderness areas or wild and scenic river corridors.
People are advised to select their tree from thickets and overstocked areas and to choose a tree that is the right size for their needs. People are also urged to be aware of winter driving conditions while searching for their tree and to pack tire chains, a first aid kit and other emergency equipment and to dress in layers and bring plenty of food and water.
Hedberg may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 983-2326.