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Local tree farmer says drought and higher demand of Christmas trees creates shortage of trees

A local tree farmer says the Christmas tree shortage is hitting him hard.
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 5:01 AM CST
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ELY Iowa (KCRG) - “We found our tree right away,” said Dana Lampe of Marion. “It was 8 to 10 feet, and we might cut a little bit off the top.”

Like many people after the Thanksgiving holiday, Lampe and her family dug into their Christmas roots and picked out the perfect Christmas tree. While the process of finding the right one and getting it cleaned off was easy enough, those who sell trees said it wasn’t easy for them to get their hands on enough supply.

“It has been hard this year,” said Mark Banowetz, owner of Cedar’s Edge Evergreen Market in Ely. “We were able to get more trees than last year, but just not as much as I wanted.”

Banowetz grows his tree, but a lot of his sales were ordered. He said people looking for fun outdoor activities during the pandemic have increased foot traffic, but a drought a decade ago has also played a part.

“Firs take 9-10 years to grow,” he said. “It wasn’t the tree that died; it was the seedlings that died. That’s where we are suffering right now.”

Banowetz said he was down to his last hundred trees but was hoping to stay open until December 15th if he had enough trees left.

“I talked to a tree farmer, and he told me the demand has gone up so much over the last couple of years that he said there would be a shortage because of the demand for trees,” he said.

While Banowetz said there was a shortage of trees for the foreseeable future, he said there certainly wasn’t a shortage of holiday spirit.

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