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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:
https://chooseandcut.com/area-map .) 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 Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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