National Christmas tree shortage impacts Wisconsin sellers

FRANKLIN -- You may want to buy your Christmas tree a little earlier this year. A nationwide shortage has Christmas tree business owners scrambling to find enough trees.

Buffalo Bill's Christmas Tree Farm in Franklin has more than 11,000 trees on their property, but since it takes roughly 8-12 years for the pines to grow to the right size, they have to buy precuts elsewhere. This year, they weren't able to buy from their normal spot in Virginia because of the national Christmas tree shortage.

For many Wisconsinites, Christmas tree shopping after Thanksgiving is a family tradition. Early birds are out looking for the best they can find while enjoying the experience that comes with it.

"Deciding which one they like, then eventually the photos of them cutting it down, hauling it back,” said Buffalo Bill’s employee Jennifer Hinkel.

Buffalo Bill's co-owner Rose Hinkel said they started selling trees on Friday.

"It's been great; I think part of it is they're starting their shopping a little sooner than they have in years past," said Hinkel.

While Hinkel believes their family business will have enough trees with help from growers in northern Wisconsin, she's well aware of the national Christmas tree shortage.

"There have been issues with supply and demand for trees with precut trees we have here on the farm," she said.

The National Christmas Tree Association said farmers on both coasts will be shipping far fewer this year.

The recession in 2008 drove many growers out of business and caused others to plant fewer trees.

"A lot of people come out and like to cut their own trees so we try to grow them as quickly as we can, but Mother Nature only goes so fast," said Hinkel.
 
A depleted inventory elsewhere often trickles down to higher prices. At Buffalo Bill’s, trees start at $50, but Hinkel doesn’t plan on turning anyone away.

"Oh definitely not,” she said. “We have trees for everyone here to make everyone happy."
 
Forestry experts predict the Christmas tree shortage could last until 2025, citing wildfires and droughts in major growing states as an additional factor.

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