Christmas trees hard to find

PHOTOS BY SHELBY WOLFE/Newport News-Times | Above: Michael Morgan, owner of Fishing Family Farms, helps Carol Coates, of Logsden, cut down a Christmas tree at his tree farm on Wednesday, Dec. 12. Below: Michael Morgan pulls a freshly cut tree on the back of his four-wheeler.

LINCOLN COUNTY –– Despite a Christmas tree shortage on the Oregon coast this year, local tree farmer Michael Morgan is seeing a boom to his business this holiday season.

“It’s been a busy year locally,” Morgan said. “Last year, we sold right at 200 and this year we’re at 225. We’re up 10 percent, so it’s good for us.”

The local Christmas tree farmer is one of the survivors of the recession, which saw one-third of Christmas tree farms in Oregon shut their doors for good. Before the now-shuttered Christmas tree farms folded, a surplus of 2 million Christmas trees meant those farmers weren’t selling their trees.

“A lot of people got out of the business,” said Chal Landgren, a Christmas tree specialist and professor at Oregon State University Extension Service. “Now, growers are able to raise their prices and sell what they have.”

While hundreds of Christmas tree farmers went out of business during the recession, Landgren still sees the same number of trees being sold this year that he saw in years past, despite warmer-than-usual conditions limiting the growth of certain kinds of Christmas trees.

“The last three summers have been dry, and hard on noble firs,” Landgren said. “But that’s not going to affect us this year. That will affect us in about seven years.”

Morgan’s Fishing Family Farms 12 miles east of Siletz might be the only local Christmas tree farm to see sales going up this year. Morgan’s contemporaries in the industry are closing down one by one, he said, because of the environmental conditions limiting just how much the trees, and the businesses dependent on them, can grow.

“I see a lot just quitting and not going forward,” he said. “We’re having drier summers, so the babies don’t want to grow as easily as they used to.”

With the supply of Christmas trees going down, locals might be out of luck finding a Christmas tree both on the coast and in the Willamette Valley. Since there are fewer suppliers to sell Christmas trees to tree lots, those still in the business are selling out quicker.

Websites and Facebook pages for multiple Christmas tree farms on the coast and in the Willamette Valley advise their customers they are completely out of trees this year. On Dec. 10, the owner of Skyline Christmas Tree Farm in Salem posted that they were out of trees and were closed.

“We are closed for the 2018 season,” the post read. “See in you in 2019 the day after Thanksgiving.”

Morgan, however, is keeping his farm open for business until Christmas Eve.

“We will be open until Dec. 24,” he said.

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