National Drought Mitigation Center


Christmas tree shortages across the country attributed partly to drought

December 10, 2018

From the Pacific Northwest through the Midwest, there is a Christmas tree shortage related to the 2008 recession when tree growers planted fewer trees, and to the 2012 drought that killed and damaged innumerable trees. 

  • A Christmas tree grower in Moline, Ill. was still hurting after the 2012 drought devastated his trees, killing 2,000 seedlings. In 2012, rain did not fall from late May through August.Years later in 2018, the tree grower had already sold out of his tallest trees and ended sales for the year.
  • Christmas tree farms in the Fort Wayne, Ind. area were still recovering from the 2012 drought that killed and damaged trees. An ongoing impact from the drought was that there have been fewer large trees available during the holiday season since the drought. The owner of one tree farm stated that in two to three years they would finally have more six feet tall Christmas trees available.
  • Drought and too few mature trees were to blame for the higher prices for Christmas trees in the Northwest.A Portland Christmas tree grower planted 9,000 trees in the spring, but nearly all of them, except for a couple hundred, died from drought. The trees that the grower did have for sale sold quickly.
  • Drought in northeast Kansas during the 2018 summer killed the youngest Christmas trees.The tree farm has not yet recovered from the 2012 and 2013 drought that killed many trees and will still be feeling the loss for another year or two.
  • The 2012 drought cost Nebraska farmers thousands of Christmas trees as 75 to 80 percent of newly planted trees died.  A tree grower in Crete in southeast Nebraska lost more than 1,800 trees in 2012. 

2012 drought wipes out 2018 Christmas sales at Wyffels Tree Farm in Moline
WQAD-TV 8 (Davenport/Rock Island/Moline), Nov. 20

Drought hurts Christmas tree supply
Journal (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Nov. 17

Drought, tree shortage to blame for Christmas tree price hike
KEZI-TV ABC 9 (Springfield, Ore.), Nov. 26

Growers say drought hurts Oregon Christmas tree crop
KPTV-TV Fox 12 Beaverton (Ore.), Nov. 24

Local stores react to National Christmas tree shortage
Kansas First News KSNT News (Topeka, Kan.), Nov. 29

Local tree farmers impacted by 2012 drought
KOLN-TV CBS 10/KGIN-TV CBS 11 Lincoln-Grand Island (Neb.), Nov. 27

-- Compiled by Denise Gutzmer, National Drought Mitigation Center