Sundridge Christmas tree farm sees strong demand as tree shortage grows
Bill Copeman and his family are busy pruning the planted Christmas trees at Copeman Tree Farms ahead of what they expect will be a busy holiday season.
“We’ve already had a few customers,” said Copeman. “But it’ll get really busy starting next weekend.”
A lot of work goes into preparing for the holiday rush.
Copeman plants eight different species in the spring. He said going from seed to harvest takes between 10-12 years.
“We had to cut all the old trees that got too big, and had a machine come in and pull the stumps out and buy the little seedlings and plant them,” he said.
While the supply is steady here, other Christmas tree farms aren’t so lucky. Increased demand and adverse weather have created a shortage of real trees this season.
“In northern Ontario, the weather is unpredictable as well,” said Shirley Brennan, Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario executive director. “The growing season is different in northern Ontario and in a lot of cases, they have to bring in pre-cuts.”
Copeman said he’s received several calls from people in cities across Ontario asking if he would sell some of his Christmas tree stock wholesale. But this year, he wants to focus on his local buyers.
“If I were to wholesale, yeah I’d be short. But I’m not,” he said. “I’m just having all of the families pick their tree and look after the local people.”
The shortage is also partially being blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, as industry experts say more families are likely choosing to stay home for the holidays and would need a tree.
“You may have to go outside of your comfort zone to get a tree," Brennan said. "You may not get that huge bushy one. You may have a tall and more slender one.”
For those who plan to buy a tree early before stock runs low, Brennan offered advice to keep it fresh.
"Make sure, if you're not putting it up, that you're going to leave it in a cool, damp place, but out of the elements," she said.
“You don't want the sun to be drying it out. So just make sure it's covered. You don't want the wind to dry it out either and then when you bring it in, make a fresh cut, put in water and water it every day and you will be good."