Bay Area Christmas tree farms say high prices due to shortage

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Christmas tree farmers say there's a shortage of trees this year. There are several factors, including one that may surprise you -- a more profitable crop.

RELATED: Nation could see Christmas tree shortage this year

Fir trees framed by a fiery sunset -- picturesque but also pricey.

"Prices are really high this year," said Tommy Speer Jr. of Wonderland Trees. "It's the highest they've ever been."

Christmas tree retailers say there's been a shortage of trees in Oregon. Speer stocked two locations in Alameda and Emeryville.

"Now there's such a shortage I had to supplement and get a load of Christmas trees from North Carolina this year.

Part of the problem is plain old supply and demand.

Christmas trees grow at a rate of about a foot a year. Farmers say we're just now seeing the effects of people not planting as much during the recession.

And now, some farmers aren't planting trees at all.

"There's also the weed economy that's happened up in Oregon. We get almost all of our trees up in Oregon," said Tom Dean, who owns a farm outside Eugene, Oregon.

He confirms the trend.

"It is very profitable. Some of our neighbors are making quite a bit of money and it's not near the work this is," said Dean of the marijuana farms overtaking Oregon.

Dean says he's committed to tree farming and his lots in Concord and Hayward.

"We have some die-hard Christmas tree ranchers so that's who we're going to support," said Dan Napier of Martinez.

Customers should expect to see higher prices -- $10 to $13 a foot.

When asked if she'd ever get a fake tree, 24-year Christmas tree customer Dana Ogden of Dublin responded, "I don't think we'd ever stop even if the price point went really high.I think we'd still be getting our trees."

Retailers recommend buying early this season, but avoid Douglas Firs because they dry out quicker.

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