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Christmas tree shortage? Sales brisk this season

Some locations already sold out as demand for trees is hot

Tree branch with ornament
A real fir or cedar is part of many folks' holiday traditions and decor. Sales of Christmas trees have been brisk this year, report Sacramento-area lots and nurseries. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

It’s barely December and already pickings at Sacramento-area Christmas tree lots and nurseries are looking pretty slim.

Are we having a Christmas tree shortage in 2020? Or a COVID Christmas tree run?

Popular sources for holiday trees report brisk demand for their inventory, which started arriving just before Thanksgiving. For example, The Plant Foundry (which offers local delivery) had only one tree left on Dec. 2.

Commercial tree lots throughout Northern California reported sales were 30 percent ahead of last year’s pace. According to the New York Times, some states such as Michigan reported a 50 percent increase.

This increase in demand for real Christmas trees, dropped needles and all, may be tied to the pandemic as families plan to stay home and create holiday memories. Artificial trees also are selling briskly.

Although fresh trees may be sold out soon, there are enough trees to forest our usual holiday decorating, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

Most farmed trees sold in the Sacramento area are Oregon grown. But several farms in El Dorado and Placer counties offer choose-and cut trees, which are still in good supply. (Check out the El Dorado County farms here: .) With pandemic precautions in place, those local farms plan to stay open until their inventory is sold.

It takes about 10 years to bring a typical 6-foot tree to market, according to the association. After a glut of farmed trees during the 2008 recession, many farms did cut back on planting seedlings. But that reduction was not enough to create a shortage now.

And what appears to be a shortage may actually be an illusion. The two busiest weekends for selling trees are the two weekends immediately after Thanksgiving, according to the association. An estimated 75 to 90 percent of trees are usually sold by that second Sunday, which was Dec. 6.

So those near empty tree lots may just be normal after all.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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