Christmas tree farms see shortages headed into high season

From the cost of the seedlings to reach a mature height, to the cost of the operation in general, Christmas tree farms have been weathering inflation.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:43 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - You’d be hard-pressed to find a budget that inflation has not affected and with the upcoming holidays, you might be watching your wallet even more carefully and so are seasonal businesses, like Christmas tree farms.

From top to bottom, things just cost more and some of that may be passed on to you.

“Our costs on the farm here have gone up,” said Kent Prior of Prior Pines.

From the cost of the seedlings which takes eight to 10 years to reach a proper selling height, to the cost of the operation in general, Christmas tree farms have been weathering inflation with the calmness of any Nebraska farmer.

“There’s only so much you can do right?,” said Keith Spilker of Spilker Tree Farm. “You try to plan ahead the best you can and you go from there.”

Spilker Christmas Tree Farm is in its last year of business. Their lot contains a fraction of what they’d have in a regular year but they’re expecting to sell about 500 trees in the two weeks they’re open.

“We’re kind of a small grower,” Spilker said “So inventory for us is somewhat limited.”

On the other side of town at Prior Pines, Kent Prior is awaiting a shipment of pre-cut firs from Wisconsin to supplement his harvest. The issue is these days it costs more to get those trees to Lincoln and there are fewer available, likely due to poor growing conditions.

“So they’re not as big as they were, should be,” Prior said. “I was able to get more trees this year but I had to buy smaller trees because the larger trees were not available. Which I went ahead and look I still don’t get my full order of pre-cut trees.”

So how does this all impact the farms’ customers? Prior said he’s had to raise tree prices about 10% per year since 2020. At Spilker’s the price has gone up about 10% per year too.

The good news is both farmers anticipate having enough trees to cover this season but they advise coming out early to pick your perfect tree.

Both farms open the Friday after Thanksgiving.