BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — A ladder is placed next to an eleven-foot Christmas tree.
“I usually do this early in the morning,” says Steve Mannhard as he climbs to the ladder. “Just a little final touch up on it,” as he shapes up the top of the tree.
Like other farmers, Christmas tree farmers work all year for a brief season at the end of the year when their crop is in demand. But depending on where you live, finding that perfect tree this season could be a challenge.
“There is a nationwide shortage of trees especially certain kinds and certain variety and sizes,” he says.
Drought and wildfires along with the lack of planting have cut the supply of real trees. Artificial trees are stuck in ports and in container yards.
“Most of the fake trees come from China and there is a supply backup that everybody knows about so they can’t get enough of them in time for the sales season,” according to Mannhard putting another demand on “real” trees.
Mannhard has owned and operated Fish River Trees for 40 years now. They plant four to five thousand trees a year and have pre-cut trees coming from North Carolina, Michigan and Oregon to meet the demand in Baldwin County and surrounding areas.
“Nationwide they don’t quite have the numbers but if you go to Christmas tree farms, they’re going to have more trees this year than they had the previous year because we are all planting more.”
Customers are buying their trees earlier and earlier in the season according to Mannhard so his farm will open the weekend before Thanksgiving to meet the demand. They expect to sell around five thousand trees this season