'We are a little late:' Christmas tree shortage leads to increase in artificial tree purchases

PLAINFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Pines, firs, spruces are the types of Christmas trees that are loaded onto lots before they're purchased and put up in livings rooms every year. But if you've gone out searching for a Christmas tree this year, you've likely noticed they might be harder to find.

Krystal Piotrowski and her boyfriend wanted to start a new tradition and cut their own Christmas tree this year, but found there was a tight supply at Anderson's Tree Farm in Plainfield.

"We are a little late, they did say come to come before Thanksgiving," Piotrowski said.

While there wasn't much to choose from in the fields, Piotrowski decided to buy a fresh-cut Frazier fur imported from North Carolina.

Chuck Pollack, the farm curator at Anderson Tree Farm, said he's struggled with growing trees on his farm over the past few years.

"We lost about 13,000 trees from the drought and the recession, we haven't recovered that yet," Pollack said.

The tree shortage has increased the demand for artificial trees. While Menards keeps plenty of live trees in stock, their selection of artificial trees gets bigger every year.

"There tends to be a bit more variation as far as what kind of lights you want on it," said Chris Folwer, Menards Plainfield General Manager. "There are ones where you can sit there with a remote and change the color of them."

Ruth Newell, a Menards customer, said she made the switch to an artificial tree a few years ago.

"When my children started to get older, it was a lot easier not to have to pick up the branches and everything that was on the floor, so I can just put everything back in the box and have it for next year," Newell said.

Despite the artificial tree boom, Anderson's Tree Farm is counting on family traditions to keep them in business, as long as they can stay in business.

Pollack said the future of tree farming doesn't look good, not due to weather or economics, but because younger generations don't want to get into the business.

"We are getting to the age, we can't do it anymore, but we keep trying we're going to the end," Pollack said.
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