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Oh, Christmas tree! A possible tree shortage could impact holidays

Supply chain issues and growers going out of business are behind the shortage.

LEHIGHTON, Pa. — It's the busiest time of the year for Crystal Spring Tree Farm in the rolling hills of the Mahoning Valley, near Lehighton.

Thousands of Christmas trees, as far as the eye can see, span over 200 acres.

But even with all this inventory, owner Chris Botek says there's still a shortage.

"We went through the recession, and a lot of huge growers went out of businesses, and now all the guys who weather the storm, and you know, are smaller growers, are getting picked on a little more, and this is a crop that's taken us 8 to 10 years to produce. We just can't up to production, get more help, and pump more trees out. We have to grow them for that long," said Botek.

Botek started cutting trees for his wholesale operation, which usually includes 10,000 to 15,000. He says this year he's had to turn away wholesale customers just to save enough trees for his inventory next year.

As for those trees for people who want to choose and cut, it's even harder.

"People cut the tree they want to cut, not the tree you want them to cut. It's hard to manage," Botek said. "You have to have a vast area for them to pick from and have a great selection for them."

With supply chain issues impacting artificial trees, Botek believes that means more people will be turning to real trees, adding even more pressure to an industry that's already tight in supplies.

"It is the perfect storm," Botek says," Everything with the shortage of trees and people wanting to get out. It's all coming."

That's not to mention a potential price increase, which Botek says is from higher fuel prices, along with worker and supplies shortages. So, don't expect to be too picky this year.

"You might have to pick a tree that isn't maybe your go-to. You might have to go a little smaller, you might have to go a little bigger, but I think you'll find a tree," said Botek.

Crystal Spring Tree Farm opens the weekend before Thanksgiving.

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