Natural trees in high demand this holiday season

Natural trees in high demand this holiday season
Picking out the perfect tree is an annual tradition for Charlotte McCully, who stopped by Downey Tree Farm on the weekend. (Photo : Stephanie McCully)

By Michael Boriero

The demand for natural Christmas trees in Quebec has soared in the past few years, benefitting local producers, but the market supply is limited, with a nagging shortage and as the province exports most of its product down south.

Downey Tree Farm and Nursery co-owner Jimmy Downey told The Record that he was fielding phone calls for Christmas trees before Halloween. The demand is higher than normal, he said, and people are travelling from all over Quebec to get one of his trees in North Hatley.

“The tree symbolizes hope and during a pandemic people are looking for hope. It symbolizes family reunion and maybe pre-pandemic times and a lot of young families are going back to the natural tree and people like to have that natural tree inside their house,” Downey explained.

Downey, who is also listed as one of the Quebec directors for the Canadian Christmas Trees Association (CCTA), said the province exports between 80 and 90 per cent of its tree supply, and it is mostly sent to the United States, specifically the state of New York.

“Here in Quebec, in Estrie, where I am, where my farm is, we’re like the capital of Canada in Christmas tree production because we’re near the border of the U.S., so it’s easy for us to export,” said Downey. He cut 15,000 trees this year for wholesale and local purchases.

The trees are more in demand, but there are less available right now, he continued. He chopped down 15 acres worth of Christmas trees, but, according to Downey, it’s only about 50 per cent of what he normally produced for wholesale prior to the North American shortage.

“We have seen this tree shortage for maybe three, four years now, we’re maybe in the fifth year where it’s getting worse and worse, but I think this might be the slowest year in terms of available inventory, but on the other side the demand has also increased,” said Downey.
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