Due to higher fertilizer, labor, fuel and equipment costs, Christmas tree prices are expected to be higher than usual this year. In many places, the drought could also impact Christmas tree farms.

The Real Christmas Tree Board (TRCTB) reports that 25% of its members in the United States increased prices by five to 15% this year.

Steve Mannard of Fish River Trees in Baldwin County said weather also impacted his yield this year.

“The best way to describe this year was challenging,” Mannard said. “Cold temperatures in the spring caused certain trees to brown in the tops and the sides. Some trees even stopped growing in July due to excessive heat and flash droughts in summer. It was the most environmentally difficult year to work in my 42 years of Christmas tree farming.”

Still, Mannard hopes for a successful Christmas tree season.

“At this time of year, I always ask, ‘Will anyone show up?’” Mannard said. “When I see the cars pull up and kids begin to run around, I know that this was worth all that hard work. It’s a good feeling to know that people want your product.”

The Alabama Extension Commercial Horticulture assistant professor Jeremy Pickens said now is the time to snag a live tree.

“If you want to get an Alabama-grown tree, then you should go early,” Pickens said. “Growers are selling out earlier and earlier each year due to a rapid increase in demand.”

Pickens said no matter what kind of tree you are looking for, the best choice is a fresh-cut tree or a tree that has been stored in water. When you get the tree home, keep the water reservoir full.

“I check my tree daily until I get a feel for its water use,” Pickens said. “If you are unable to bend down to check, construct a dipstick. Just take any rod (broom handle, pool stick, fishing rod, etc.) and mark the depth of the water bowl on the side. Check the water level by dipping the stick in the water bowl to reveal a watermark. It’s similar to checking your automotive oil.”

In South Alabama, Mannard said he still has plenty of options for families looking for that perfect tree.

“They are growing more normally now with our moderate temperatures,” he explained. “There may have been some lost growth, but we were blessed with resilient trees. We have a great crop for families this year.”

Mannard told 1819 News the weekend following Thanksgiving was record-breaking until the rain came on Sunday. However, he said he was thankful for the rain.

Fish River Trees prices can be viewed online.

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