Christmas tree shortage could cause decline in real Christmas tree tradition

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — One of the biggest traditions for the holiday season is to go out and search for that perfect Christmas Tree. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, approximately 25-30 million Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. Every year.

But that number is slowly declining for multiple reasons. The aging of farmers, the harsh climate, and the loss of interest in the farming industry are just some of the reasons why the numbers continue to fall.

In the 1990’s more than 300 Christmas tree farms operated in West Virginia – by 2007 the number was down to 173 farms – and today there are less than 50, according to the Division of Forestry

Another reason is the rise in popularity of artificial trees. Since 1992, there’s been a more than 30 percent increase in households that buy artificial Christmas trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

But, for every real Christmas tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring. West Virginia Division of Forestry is trying out some pro-active methods to keep Christmas trees around.

The state forestry department started developing a seed source, and then the Christmas tree growers started getting seedlings from the state forestry department to get more trees.” 

Laura Rusmisell, co-owner of French Creek Farms

Laura Rusmisell, co-owner of French Creek farms in Upshur Country, brings their trees to the Capitol Market in Charleston every year. She says they have trouble keeping up with the demand for real trees.

Last year we actually sold out a week before Christmas. We were having people from Huntington, Parkersburg, Beckley, all over come here, because there’s a tree shortage.”

Laura Rusmisell, co-owner of French Creek Farms

Rusmisell says that every tree deserves a home even if it has some flaws. They have a specific spot at Capitol Market where their “Charlie Brown Christmas” trees are sold.

While you can find that artificial tree on the internet – or a big box grocery or home improvement store –  there’s something about the lure of a fresh cut tree that still excites memories – and starts new ones.

French Creek Farms sells “Charlie Brown Christmas Trees” for under $20 at Capitol Market.

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