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Area growers are starting to recover from tree glut that cut grower numbers over the years

Christmas tree season is off and running in the area.

It's as traditional as turkey for Thanksgiving in this area – loads of Christmas trees being cut, stacked and shipped for the holiday season.

Things are really jumping right now on tree farms from Canby to Molalla to Aurora, and that's a good sign, according to Chal Landgren, Christmas tree specialist and professor at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center. "The guys are very busy right now. You go by those loading docks and they've got a lot going on."

Oregon ships approximately 4.7 million Christmas trees each year, with about 1.2 million coming out of Clackamas County and another 1.3 million from Marion County. A healthy dose of those are plucked from the soil of farms in and around Canby, Molalla and Aurora.

After a couple years of struggle, things are looking a little brighter for the Christmas tree industry as we head into December 2017.

"The last two years have been kind of hard on the trees due to the hot summers," said Landgren. "A lot of growers in this area lost Noble Fir they planted the last two years.

That also created some problems with trees being stressed and a little more needle drop from inside the trees."

Also playing a role was a tree glut that lasted for several years, something the industry is now coming out of, said Landgren.

"Growers had been in a pretty tough situation through this whole tree glut situation, but we started coming out of it about two years ago," he said. "About five or six years ago we had about 2 million more trees than could be sold."

Landgren said that while the national media has been focused on a tree shortage, that's not the case in the local area. Christmas tree hunters should see plenty of opportunity to find the kind of tree they desire. However, there may be an added cost.

"Most growers have been raising their prices the last two years," he said. "Anywhere from 10 to 13 percent this year and last. So, folks should probably expect to pay a little more."Z

The glut and hot weather have played a part in trimming the amount of growers over the last couple of years.

Landgren estimated that the state has lost about one-third of its Christmas tree growers in that time, but added there are more than 500 licensed growers in the state, with around 200 of those in the local area.

"We've seen a lot of (Christmas tree) fields going into filberts around here," Landgren said.

However, Landgren said that the Christmas tree industry is still thriving in the local area. And while the glut of trees is easing, the demand for Oregon trees, both locally and abroad, is still heavy.

"This is the center of production and one of the interesting facts is that you have growers in this county that are shipping to Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico -- all over the world," he said. "To ship to a place like Singapore or Hong Kong, they had to have them cut a month-and-a-half ago."

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