SUMMERDALE, Ala. (WKRG) – There’s a Christmas tree supply problem, especially when it comes to show-stopping trees.

“I don’t have a tree over 10ft. on the property,” said Steve Mannhard, owner of Fish River Treest in Summerdale. “The same thing is happening nationwide with the fir trees and the spruce trees. There’s a huge shortage of larger fir trees.”

Mother Nature is partly to blame for that. Mannhard and his wife Sandra have operated Fish River Trees for the past 41 years. He said when weather cooperates most of the trees on the 40-acre farm can grow up to 3-feet in one year.

In 2022, some were stunted because of too much rain this summer.

“It was the rainiest July and August we’ve ever experienced,” said Mannhard. “We had over 30” of rain those two months and it just wouldn’t stop. I was going is it ever going to stop raining.”

He said there wasn’t enough rain this fall. That means slower growth. Fewer taller trees are available this Christmas season as a result. Good luck finding one. And, if you do, expect sticker shock.

“The average grower now is charging for a choose and cut tree around $10 a foot,” said Mannhard. “Some charge a little more. An average tree, like a 7-8ft. is somewhere in the $70-$80 range. That’s a lot less than what the fir trees are going to cost, which are almost double that.”

This holiday season Mannhard purchased 2,000 fir trees from the northern U.S. to supplement his farm. He also has several hundred “bucket” trees to choose from. He said it’s also costing more to bring in that inventory.

“A lot of it is the freight cost and there’s a shortage of them,” Mannhard continued.

Christmas tree farmers across the South are facing higher production costs, too.

“The fertilizers gone through the roof,” said Mannhard. “All of the chemicals that you use to keep the bugs out of the tree and all of that, those have all gone up.”

Seedlings are hard for farmers to get this year, too. Mannhard must order them a year in advance, then nurture them for two to three years before they’re ready to sell, making best-guesses every step of the way.

“You’ve got to plan far out and you hope nothing happens far out three years from now to affect the market and that’s an issue,” said Mannhard.