With Christmas less than a month away, shipments of fresh-cut Christmas trees from U.S. producers are in full swing.
Oregon leads the nation in Christmas tree production, with 383 growers selling about 4.6 million trees in 2018. Oregon Christmas trees had a sales value of $120.6 million in 2017, the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Oregon ships the majority of its trees domestically to California, Nevada and Arizona. However, Mexico is the top international destination for Oregon’s fresh-cut Christmas trees, accounting for around 16% of exports ($19.2 million) in 2017, according to the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association.
Christmas trees imported into Mexico pass through the United States’ southern border, mainly through ports of entry in Laredo, Brownsville and Eagle Pass, Texas; Nogales, Arizona; and San Diego, according to Mexico’s Environmental Protection Agency (PROFEPA).
About 68% of U.S. Christmas tree exports to Mexico pass through the San Diego-Otay Mesa port of entry in California, according to PROFEPA. The Nogales port of entry in Arizona is next at 19% and Laredo at 11%.
After Oregon, the top Christmas tree producing states are Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Washington.
Oregon City-based McKenzie Farms is in the midst of its shipping season and is sending trees to Asia, Canada and Mexico, said owner Ken Cook.
McKenzie Farms is one of the largest Christmas tree producers in Oregon, shipping more than 1 million trees all over the world in 2018. However, Cook said there will be a shortage this year.
“The demand will exceed supply by 1 million trees this year in the Northwest,” Cook said in an interview with KXL News.
The lack of trees can be attributed to some 400 fewer Oregon growers now compared to 10 years ago and less land being used to grow trees, said Chal Landgren, a professor at Oregon State’s College of Forestry at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center.
“We’re coming off a period where too many trees were planted, and a lot of growers have gone out of business because of the boom-and-bust cycle,” Landgren said in an interview with the Oregon State University Extension Service.
The average cost for a fresh-cut Christmas tree last year was $78, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. This year prices could be as much as $10 more.