Christmas trees are getting shorter every year. This is because festive pine, fir and spruce trees can take about a decade to grow to full size and the tallest trees are likely to be cut down annually for use as holiday decorations.
Christmas tree farmers across the industry have seen a shortage of taller trees, said Ronald Sewell, who owns and operates Sewell’s Farm in Taneytown.
At Otterdale View Christmas Tree Farm in Union Bridge, this has been the case. Farm owner Jean Coshun said she has had a hard time fulfilling requests for larger trees recently, as have many Christmas tree farms in Carroll County.
“This big population coming to buy trees just a couple of years ago sort of upset the balance of things, of how many you can grow in a certain amount of time,” Coshun said. “Because they sort of cleared out all of the larger trees and because it takes so long for them to grow, you can’t have leftover large trees when they’re all sold.”
Recent increases in demand can be explained by the pandemic, Coshun said.
“I think COVID affected it more so than anything,” she said. “Families couldn’t get out and about and do anything, but they could visit tree farms during COVID because it was outside. It encouraged more people to go do that because they couldn’t do indoor events.”
Christmas trees can grow about 1 foot per year. If a pine, fir or spruce tree grows more than a foot in one year’s time, it is sheared back to ensure a full-bodied appearance, Coshun said. A desirable 8-foot tree could take 10 years to grow, although larger trees are also more work to move and decorate.
A tree standing 10 feet or taller will be difficult to find at any farm this year, Coshun said.
Sewell’s Farm offers white pines up to 12 feet tall, but the tallest of the other five types of trees grown on the farm is 9 feet. Sewell said he was able to grow 12-foot trees because of an abundance of white pines in previous years.
Carroll County Breaking News
“It takes a long time to get a tree to that size,” Sewell said. “A lot of trees are sold in the area of 7 to 8 feet tall, so it’s hard to hold some back so they get larger.”
A number of factors can impede growth over the course of the decade it takes for a Christmas tree to reach full size, although Coshun said weather is the most important factor.
The trees at Otterdale View look good and are ready to go despite this summer’s dry spell, Coshun said.
Sewell echoed Coshun’s concerns about recent dry conditions but said there has been enough rain to make the trees look perfectly full-bodied for the holidays.
Otterdale View will open Friday through Dec. 11 and offers warm apple cider to visitors.
Sewell’s opened Nov. 19 and will remain open until Dec. 22, with a day off for Thanksgiving. Sewell’s Farm also includes a gift shop.