Farmers in New Jersey are raising prices to account for the rising cost of fertilizer, fuel, and labor, so some New Jersey residents may have to dig deeper into their wallets to get a Christmas tree this year. Data from the Real Christmas Tree Board, a national research and advocacy organization, shows that Christmas tree costs have risen across the country.
Over ninety-eight percent of producers predicted an increase in wholesale prices this year, with some predicting a 20% increase or more for their trees. Seventy-one percent of farmers polled, however, reported raising wholesale prices by five to fifteen percent from the previous year. As a result, many shoppers might expect to pay more.
John Wyckoff, owner of Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm in Belvidere, Warren County, and third-generation tree farmer, noted that the price of doing business has increased dramatically in recent years. Fertilizer prices rose by 350% in the same time period, he claimed,
while the price of off-road diesel fuel surged by 500%. Since the cost of labor has gone up due to the increase in the minimum wage, Wyckoff claims he has no alternative but to raise the pricing of his trees in Warren County to stay in business.
There is a high “cost of doing business in New Jersey,” he warned. In my opinion, the Christmas tree farming industry as a whole is quite innovative. He claims to have hiked prices by about 10% from the previous year. He estimated that a 7-foot Fraser fir would cost $105 this year, or $14 per foot.
He explained that the small increase was made “to help maintain,” or “to keep our head above water. Wyckoff has stated that he does not want to raise costs too much, therefore he looks for other methods to save money. He may opt to purchase a pre-owned item rather than brand-new machinery.
Richard and Susan Longcore, husband and wife co-owners of Am-Jac Christmas Tree Farm in Augusta, Sussex County, stated they did not increase their rates this year. Because “everything is hard on people,” the Longcores decided to keep their prices the same despite rising fuel expenses, as Susan Longcore explained.
This year, every tree on the tiny, six-acre farm in Sussex County costs $55. However, the farm’s stock has quickly depleted, with the majority of the 10-12 foot trees sold out. After keeping prices flat in 2018, Tim Dunne, who owns Woodsedge Tree Farm in Belvidere with his wife, said he hiked rates by around 7 percent this year.
Fertilizer costs have tripled, and tools needed to cultivate and sell the trees are more difficult to come by, he claimed. Dunne noted that consumers are aware that costs have increased across the board, from restaurants to supermarkets, and that most recognize that inflation has affected even Christmas tree prices.
At his farm, fir trees are a year no matter how big they are, and spruce trees are a year.
Dunne, though, claims to have experienced record sales and tipping levels this year. Major inputs like fertilizer and fuel have “truly affected us hard,” he added, but they don’t want to hike prices too much for fear of alienating customers.
Cranford’s National Tree Company CEO Chris Butler remarked that the price of artificial trees has also gone up this year. He estimated a 10% to 15% increase in starting prices. Butler noted that low sales and surplus stock were leading to a surge in deep discounts of 30%–50%.
So, “this year shoppers can get Christmas trees at lower prices than in years past.” According to Jill Sidebottom, a seasonal spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association and retired extension specialist in North Carolina, it can take anywhere from five to fifteen years for a real Christmas tree to develop, which reflects any altering expenses.
As the tree matures, the farmer pays a fee, as well as when they first plant it and again when they finally harvest it.
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She explained the delay by saying, “So, it takes a farmer a long time to put in that investment.” Christmas tree growers, on the other hand, claim that they aid the local economy, create jobs,
and preserve green space while also giving buyers a unique experience. Wyckoff explained that by purchasing a real Christmas tree, consumers are able to support “real farmers” and ensure that “real farms” remain in business.