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Christmas tree prices rise slightly amid higher costs for farmers

Workers at a Christmas tree farm in Boone, N.C., carry trees to a truck for shipping in December 2015.
Nick de la Canal
Workers at a Christmas tree farm in Boone, N.C., carry trees to a truck for shipping in December 2015.

With Thanksgiving over, many North Carolinians are heading out to purchase Christmas trees at farms and tree lots, and industry experts say prices should be about the same or slightly higher than last year.

About half of farmers surveyed by the grower-funded Real Christmas Tree Board said they expect to raise prices by less than 5% this year. About a quarter expect no price increase.

The median price of a Christmas tree last year was $80.

Meanwhile, 70% of growers reported a 10% higher cost of growing, harvesting and shipping trees. In addition, many farmers in North Carolina had special challenges from the weather.

"It's been dry as you well know. There's a lot of fires and things going on now. There's been some drought conditions," said Jill Sidebottom, a seasonal spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association, who is based in Mitchell County.

She said many Christmas tree farms in North Carolina were untouched by recent wildfires in the mountains, and while the drought poses a threat to younger seedlings, it's less of a concern for established trees.

Some other growers in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama did lose significant portions of their seedlings and younger trees to drought this year, said Marsha Gray, executive director of the Real Christmas Tree Board.

"A few of the farms had losses big enough that they're like, our inventory is definitely down," Gray said.

Still, the industry expects to meet consumer demand and make more than 60% of Christmas tree sales over the next two weeks.

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Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal