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Canadians facing a Christmas tree shortage this holiday season

By Anthony Vasquez-Peddie

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    TORONTO (CTV Network) — Canadians who want to celebrate the holidays with a perfectly plucked Christmas tree this year may need to make some compromises due to the amount of supply versus demand.

Tree farms are struggling to keep up with increased demand, and adverse weather events have further limited the amount of fresh, live Christmas trees available this season.

“We can’t plant trees fast enough,” Shirley Brennan, executive director of the Canadian Christmas Trees Association, told on Thursday. “From seed to harvest, that can take anywhere between 10 and 12 years.”

During the 2008 recession, some tree farmers chose not to expand their operations, according to Brennan, and since then the price of land has skyrocketed, which has limited opportunities for increased growth.

The rise in demand seems to have come from a number of different avenues.

“We see urban sprawl everywhere and people are now getting new homes and want to start new traditions,” Brennan said. “We’re also seeing new Canadians that just want to embrace some of the traditions in Canada.”

Christmas tree farmers went through a similar situation last year, which was probably exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Brennan says, due to families staying at home instead of visiting relatives. It’s a scenario that may play out again this season.

But demand isn’t the only problem. Mother nature hasn’t been kind, either.

“In 2018, there was a severe frost in Nova Scotia that it was in the middle of June, and it damaged not only seedlings but mature trees,” Brennan said. “We saw the same type of frost weather in 2021 in Quebec.

“We’ve also seen the extreme heat in the West. This year was really bad in B.C.” British Columbia is in the midst of one of its worst years on record in terms of wildfires.

Apart from the threat of destruction, such weather events could also potentially delay the growth of trees by a number of years, which further impacts supply.

As for picking out a perfect tree for their living rooms, Canadians may have to step out of their comfort zone this holiday season due to the shortage.

“If you can’t find it in the city at a retailer, come up to a farm,” Brennan said. “You may not get that 10- or 12-foot tree, you may get an eight-foot tree, or it may be a skinnier tree.”

The time to buy may be fast approaching, but at least one big retailer won’t be selling live Christmas trees. IKEA has posted a note at the top of each Canadian location’s website informing customers that no live Christmas trees will be sold at stores this year.

For those who plan to buy a tree early before stock runs low, Brennan offered advice for keeping it fresh.

“Make sure, if you’re not putting it up, that you’re going to leave it in a cool, damp place, but out of the elements,” she said. “You don’t want the sun to be drying it out. So just make sure it’s covered. You don’t want the wind to dry it out either.

“And then when you bring it in, make a fresh cut, put in water and water it every day and you will be good.”

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Sonja Puzic

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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