Real Christmas trees are expected to become more expensive in 2022

Christmas tree farms are not immune to inflation, and a drought 10 years ago resulted in limited supply.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — With Thanksgiving in the books, many Hoosiers will be spending time putting up the Christmas tree this weekend.

For families who want to buy a fresh tree this year, it will cost them more than 2021.

Wholesaler prices have increased by up to 24%. That’s what Dan Cassens says. He owns and operates a tree farm in West Lafayette.

Just off Morehouse Road, a bright red barn welcomes Christmas tree buyers Cassens trees.

Here Cassens stays hard at work. His 20-acre farm has rows and rows of pine and fir trees.

“A lot of people will ask about Fraser because it’s the most common type,” Cassens said, “but Canadians are just almost identical.”

Cassens said both trees are roughly the same price.

Cassens Trees also offers other types of trees:

  • Scots pine: According to Cassens, this is one of the most common trees in Indiana. They are easy to grow with good needle retention and stiff branches.
  • White Pine: These trees have softer branches and needles. Because of this, they can be a bit more difficult to decorate, but the cost is about the same as a Scots pine.
  • Fir: These are short-needled trees with stiff branches. They have a silver tint among the branches.
  • Spruce: With a more spiky texture, Cassens said, spruces only typically hold needles for about three weeks. With these trees, timing is everything.

Of all the trees on the farm, Cassens says his favorites are the Canadian firs.

Tall trees have been in high demand in recent years, Cassens said.

“Ten feet is really doable,” Cassens said. “We have some 11s and 12s.”

While it is doable, it is also more time-consuming and tedious.

“A lot of these bigger trees can hold 200-300 cones,” Cassens said, “and those all have to be hand-picked. If you go up these big trees, you’ve got to get a ladder out here.”

In addition, each tree is sheared by hand in summer.

“Professional clippers have a knife in each hand,” Cassens said. “You just go around the tree and shape it. We don’t like clipping these trees really hard because then you don’t have space to hang your jewelry.”

This year, Cassens says, it will cost families more to pick the perfect pine tree.

For one thing, according to Cassens, Christmas tree farms are not immune to inflation. He said another major reason for the supply shortage was a severe drought 10 years ago.

“That’s probably what triggered this problem of the limited supply of trees, because that carries on,” Cassens said. “This tree here is probably nine years old in the field and two more years old in the nursery. They calculate it will take 10 years to make up for the trees they lost to the drought.”

To keep up with demand, Cassebs has plenty of help on the farm thanks to a handful of Purdue University students.

“We have about 15 to 20 students out here on the busy weekends,” Cassens said. “They have a good time. They work hard, but they also have a good time and joke.”

Cassens is currently Professor Emeritus of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue. He worked there for 40 years and has been retired for five years.

Because Christmas trees are pruned in the Hoosier state, Cassens said his tree farm has the honor of placing one of its trees at Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mansion.

Cassens Trees is open on Saturdays and Sundays. From November 28th the farm will also be open from Monday to Friday.

hours can be found on the web. The farm closes for the season on December 23rd at 6pm.

Once the families have their new tree indoors, Cassens suggests putting it in its stand within a few hours.

The next step is to keep watering your fresh tree.

“It doesn’t need water on the first day or two,” Cassens said. “And then it warms up and says, ‘Oh, it’s time to grow,’ so it starts sucking up water.”

Finally, Cassens reminds families to keep their trees away from heat sources. Real Christmas trees are expected to become more expensive in 2022

Laura Coffey

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