MILLIS, Mass. — If this keeps up, Black Friday may become known as “Green Friday.” Local Christmas tree growers report a robust start to the season — with some cut-your-own farms already selling out for the entire season.
That was not exactly the case at Deerfield Tree Farm in Millis. They had a big weekend, as well, and the most popular sizes did sell out. But more trees are on the way, said owner Greg Dowd.
“We’re going to be ready to go this week and this weekend with a full supply of trees,” Dowd said.
Those trees will largely be coming from Dowd’s second farm — a 30-acre spread in northern Vermont dedicated to growing conifers. Last summer’s unprecedented rains in Vermont didn’t seem to affect Dowd’s trees much — so prices are comparable to last year.
A weekend rush at Allandale Farm in Brookline helped lower its stock of Christmas trees by 900. CEO and General Manager Helen Glotzer expects this coming weekend to be even busier.
“We get shipments of trees from both North Carolina and Nova Scotia,” said Glotzer. “We’ve had three truckloads come already. We’ve got three more coming, including this week.”
Glotzer said pricing is only slightly higher than last year for most trees. “Though the bigger trees went up a lot because of supply and demand,” she said.
Allandale’s tallest Frasier Firs are retailing for $275. Drop down a foot or two and so does the price — to $220. Balsam Firs are less expensive than Frasiers — sometimes dramatically so if the tree is not considered a “premium” grade.
“A number one grade is a slightly lower grade,” said Glotzer. “Which might mean that it has an extra hole or it’s a little less dense. Particularly if you’re not looking at the tree from 360 degrees, which most of us aren’t, that’s a good insider tip to get a better value. Just shop down a grade.”
Another thing you can shop for — if perfection is in the eye of the beholder — are “wild” trees.
“They’re kind of unpruned,” said Dowd. “You can get a 10 or 12-foot tree for maybe $40 to $80. A lot of people really like that style of tree. We try to have trees for everybody.”
In Westwood, Lamberts is still stocked with multiple piles of pines — but many trees went out the door last weekend.
“People are excited,” said Nino Lambert. “That’s the most fun weekend for me. Those are the diehards. They come in the day after Thanksgiving with their Santa hats on. It was a very busy weekend. It was good.”
Lambert said tree prices this year are actually down from last year — by $10.
“Last year, the customers pushed back a little bit,” he said. That led Lamberts to push back on its supplier from Quebec, resulting in a nice win for local consumers.
Price is an important consideration. But Dowd said there’s something more crucial to know about a Christmas tree: its cut date — which gives an indication how long the tree will stay fresh.
“You have trees coming from nobody knows where — and when they were cut, no one would know,” said Dowd. “I planted them, I grew them, I pruned them and I cut them. I think that makes a difference in the long run.”
Glotzer said that nationally there is a shortage of Christmas trees. While that may be true, Dowd said it’s also possible that the shortage is in getting trees to market — because of a lack of labor among Christmas tree farmers. It’s one of the many industries in the U.S. having trouble finding workers.
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