Weather, Inflation and Other Challenges
I am sitting at my computer watching the rain fall outside my windows … again. It has been a rough year for the Christmas trees at Evergreen Farm. During the first week of October, we walked up and down every row on the farm pulling out dead trees. We counted 1,438. And they continue to die. There can be a number of reasons for trees failing: poor planting stock, poor planting methods, drought, etc. But I have my suspicions…
According to USClimateData.com, the average rainfall in Worcester for July to September is 11.87 inches. The Worcester Regional Airport has reported 26.02 inches of rain has fallen in those three months. Evergreen Farm may have received more or less than the Worcester airport – for instance, our neighbors in Leominster received about 9.5” on September 11 alone - but you get the idea: Too much rain!
In addition to causing trees to die, the excessive rain has also helped spread a fungus on our Concolor firs. The fungus causes needles to drop, so you will notice very few Concolor will be available for sale this year. One of our three plantations of Concolor was hit very hard and may have to be cut and burned. To make matters worse, this is the third consecutive year of substantial losses. In 2021 we also experienced heavy rainfall in July and August and in 2022 we experienced a moderate to severe drought, resulting in a few thousand more losses. It is disheartening to pay for the transplants, pay people to help me plant them, and spend so much of my own time getting them planted, fertilized and sheared only to see them die. Not only is it disheartening, it is also costly.
I am not the only tree farmer to have experienced these problems. There has been a shortage of fresh-cut trees in New England for the past three years. As most of my loyal customers know, I sell out of my choose-and-cut trees very early and can never keep them around long enough for them to grow larger than 7 to 8 feet. Because of this, in the past I have offered precut trees purchased from tree farms in northern New England. However, the supply of precut trees has seriously dwindled, and the cost has skyrocketed in the last three years. As a result, I have had very few, if any, precut trees for sale the last three years. The lack of precuts has significantly affected the farm’s profits.
Speaking of increased costs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Boston metropolitan area has increased from 249.929 in November of 2012 to 320.702 in November 2022, an increase of 28.32%. In that same time frame, the average price for our Fraser fir has gone from $57.41 to $71.53 (not including MA sales tax), an increase of 24.595%. So during the last ten years, my tree prices have increased at a rate less than inflation since 2012.
As a result of rain, fungus, lack of precut sales, inflation and other challenges, my prices will increase noticeably for the 2023 season. I ask for your understanding and hope for your continued patronage.