No lack of Christmas trees in Wisconsin, despite shortages elsewhere

Chris Mueller
Appleton Post-Crescent
Chris and Sara Birn of Appleton look for a Christmas tree with their sons Nick and Ben on Friday at the YMCA Christmas tree lot in the parking lot of Festival Foods on Northland Avenue in Appleton.

APPLETON - The time has come again.

Thanksgiving has ended. Shopping has started. And for many, this weekend kicked off another holiday ritual: bringing home a Christmas tree.

More than a few lots have opened in the Fox Cities with rows of trees for sale in all shapes and sizes.

Don’t expect any surprises this year. Selection won’t be an issue — around here, anyway — and prices shouldn’t have changed much from last year, according to Cheryl Nicholson, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association.

“You may see a small increase due to cost of inputs in growing the trees, but not a shocking change,” she said.

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That’s not expected to be the case everywhere. Prices could go up in other places this year as the country’s top producers, Oregon and North Carolina, face a shortage of trees, possibly a consequence of the Great Recession in 2007. Trees take nearly a decade to grow before they’re ready for the market.

Wisconsin growers have plenty of trees and aren’t experiencing a shortage, Nicholson said.

Guy Bytof, a member of the Y-Service Club, secures a Christmas tree to the top of a car while working at the YMCA Christmas tree lot.

“They sold to retailers who could not get trees from their regular source,” she said.

But even if Wisconsin hasn’t been affected by the shortage, it’s important not to wait too long to get a tree.

This upcoming weekend is expected to be one of the busiest for those looking to pick up a tree, said Crystal Pollack-Wilson, a Y-Service Club volunteer who was working Saturday at a tree lot outside Festival Foods on Northland Avenue in Appleton.

The lot, which opened Friday, was still packed with trees, but typically sells out — that’s more than 500 trees — in about two weeks, Pollack-Wilson said.

The prices haven’t changed from last year, she said, and all of the proceeds fund programming at the Appleton YMCA.

Bruce Lembcke, a member of the Y-Service Club, trims the base of a Christmas tree for a customer on Friday at the YMCA Christmas tree lot in the parking lot at Festival Foods in Appleton.