Mississippi tree vendors trying to cut down rising cost of Christmas trees in 2021

PONTOTOC, Miss. (WCBI) – Even the Christmas tree industry has taken a hit during 2021, especially in Mississippi.

Between the ice storm in February, Hurricane Ida and the rising cost of chemicals and shipping, there’s a lot more green that went into 2021’s evergreen trees.

Just like Santa Claus, getting ready for the holiday season is a year-long process for Christmas tree farmers.

“Spraying chemicals and fungicides on the trees, keeping the grass mowed, you got to keep it up all year long to have everything just right for that tiny window of selling season,” says Adam Carnes, the co-owner of Carnes Farms in Pontotoc.

It takes about two-and-a-half to three years to grow a crop of Christmas trees. But like so many other industries in 2021, they have taken a hit.

“We ordered these trees several months ago,” says Marty Walton, the owner of Walton’s Greenhouse. “Unfortunately, we did because they’re in short supply this year. We had difficulty getting them in here. It’s hard to get trucks right now with the way the supply line is running.”

Walton says he’s had no choice but to increase the price of his Fraser fir trees by roughly 20 percent, up to about $13 per foot.

“We try to keep costs down as much as we can, but freight costs a whole lot more than I did in years past, driving up some of those costs,” he says. “We’re trying to keep it reasonable for the customer.”

Carnes says 2021 will be the first year he will get to sell the trees he has grown himself. But because of the year’s weather, he says he lost about 10 percent of his crop.

“10 percent is 20 to 30 trees at the most that we’re losing now,” he says. “Still, that’s 20 customers that may not get a tree in three more years, but it’s not as big an issue as some of the larger farms are having to deal with.”

Despite having to spend more on chemicals and dealing with a disrupted supply chain, Carnes says they are trying their best not to pass that on to their customers.

“We’re trying to grow our customer base and have the families come in for that experience,” he says “The last thing that we wanted to do was make a price increase, so we absorbed as much as we could.”

Both Walton and Carnes encourage families to buy local and buy soon when shopping for their trees.

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