Christmas trees' stock rising in Oregon

truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Wed Oct 18 12:36:07 EST 2000

>From The Sunday Oregonian, Oct. 15, 2000, p C8

Christmas trees' stock rising in Oregon
The market is ripe, and Oregon and Washington grow a third of U.S.
Christmas trees annually

The Associated Press

	SALEM -- Christmas is coming early to Oregon tree growers, who are
seeing a sharp reversal of the HCristmas tree gluts and poor prices that
hurt them in the 1980's and mid-1990s.
	"Demand for Northwest trees is off the charts," said Bryan Ostlund
of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association.
	The harvest doesn't swing into high gear for another month, but the
vast majority of trees have already been sold to wholesalers, who have
been willing to pay top dollars.
	Prices have "just gone crazy" with growers getting as much as $23 to
$26 for a 6-foot noble fir, Ostlund said.
	"Some growers are holding onto trees and fishing to see how hgh the
price will go," he said.
	The trees hitting the market today were planted six or seven years
ago, when plunging prices prompted many growers to scale back plantings.
Others simply left the business.
	Now, the oversupply has vanished, and it is a seller's market.
	That's especially appreciated in Orgon, which is the largest
producer of Christmas trees. The state's farmers cultivate 67,000 acres
of trees and harvested 9 million last year.
	Combined, Oregon and Washington grow a third of the 36 million
Christmas trees sold annual in the United States.
	The most sought-after and expensive trees are noble firs, although
strong demand has also helped propel the prices of grand and Douglas
	Drakes Crossing Nursery, a Silverton tree farm and seedling
supplier, has limited its Christmas tree sales to a select group of
established customers.
	Owner Barbara Hupp said she's taking about 20 telephone calls a week
from wholesalers desperately searching for Christmas tree, particularly
noble firs.
	In her 30 years in the business, Hupp said she an't remember a time
when the supply of trees was so tight, or when wholesalers were so eager
to buy Oregon trees. Drakes Crossing has raised pries by about 10 percent
compared with last year.
	The farm could have demanded higher prices, but Hupp said that could
have cost it goodwill and sales next year.
	Holiday shoppers may also have to pay more to buy a tree this year,
becuase retailers typically charge double the wholesale price.
	The noble fir, a species favored by consumers and retailers becuase
it is long-lasting, is also the first choice for growers.
	But for several years, farmers have ahd trouble finding seeds or
seedlings to expand their noble fir crop.
	The seed shortage isn't entirely bad becuase it prevented the
oversupply situation that battered the industry in the past, accoridng to
Jim Heater of Silver Mountain Christmas Trees in Sublimity. Heater is
president of the national Christmas Tree Association.
	Despite the good news, Heater siad Christmas tree growers still are
worried about rising energy costs. For an Oregon tree shipped to
California, higher fuel costs will increase the prie by at least a dollar
this year.

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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