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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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