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Some Christmas tree retailers seeing shortage because of recession 10 years ago

Jack Smith checked out trees at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow last year.
Jack Smith checked out trees at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow last year.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Some retailers are seeing a shortage this year of precut Christmas trees sourced from large wholesale farms around the United States and Canada because of the recession 10 years ago, local industry officials said.

David Morin, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Christmas Tree Association and owner of Arrowhead Acres in Uxbridge, said large national tree farms that sell precut trees to retailers have seen a decline in the supply of their trees.

During the recession in the late 2000s, the large farms took a hit and could not afford to plant enough trees. Now, 10 years later, the trees have matured and are ready to be sold, but there aren’t enough, Morin said.

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This could affect prices. Morin said one wholesaler he talked to has increased his prices by $7 per tree because of the scant supply.

But smaller, local tree farms that specialize in choose-and-cut trees that are only chopped down once they are sold are not seeing the shortage, Morin said.

Marsha Lewicke, one of the owners of Indian Rock Farm in Foxborough, said she knew of the shortage, but her operation has not been affected because her precut trees come from local farms.

Greg Dowd, owner of Deerfield Tree Farm in Millis, sells choose-and-cut and precut trees. He said the wholesalers from whom he buys precut trees have been feeling the shortage.

“With the precut trees the past couple of years, I’ve been able to get the quantities I want, but the wholesalers that I deal with are definitely up against it as far as the numbers go,” Dowd said.

Morin said most people do their Christmas tree shopping when the tree farms open the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Morin predicted the precut trees will probably run out before the choose-and-cut trees, which he said will cost around $70 this year, with prices increasing as the farms get closer to Boston.

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Dowd said he was expecting the weekend to be busy because people enjoy the tradition of buying a tree the day after Thanksgiving. Also, this year has a short selling season of just four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

During these “four-weekend seasons,” Dowd said, the first weekend typically sees a “rush or a panic” of people trying to buy trees.

“It doesn’t influence the total amount of sales, just condenses it,” he said.

Dowd recommends that people buy their trees the first weekend after Thanksgiving because the selection will decrease after that. He disagreed with the idea that buying a precut tree later in the season will result in a fresher tree.

“Almost all trees are cut right around Thanksgiving and that’s it for the year, and it’s just a matter of when you’re going to pick it up,” he said.

For those interested in cutting their own fresh evergreen at a reduced price, the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire will be offering permits to cut a tree in the forest starting Friday.

Colleen Mainville, a spokeswoman for the national forest, said she doesn’t know whether the retail shortage will trigger greater interest.

“It’s a very popular program already,” she said. “We’ve got some great stories of families going out and making it a tradition.”

The permits cost $5 and will be available to purchase by cash or check at the White Mountain National Forest’s offices in Campton, Lincoln, Gorham, or Conway in New Hampshire. The forest has balsam firs and spruce trees, and only hand tools such as handsaws and axes can be used to cut down the trees.

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Maria Lovato can be reached at maria.lovato@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @maria_lovato99.