The centerpiece of every American household that celebrates Christmas is, of course, the tree.
And while the holiday is still three months away, this year’s unpredictable weather patterns, along with inflation, could mean New Yorkers are paying more for their tree. That’s had Christmas tree farmers, like Warwick’s Kurt Emmerich, preparing.
“We’re just about finishing up shearing, so the next step after that is inventory, and then we’ll post it online and we’ll start selling reservations,” said Emmerich, the owner of Emmerich Tree Farm.
What You Need To Know
- Kurt Emmerich, a Christmas tree farmer in the Hudson Valley, says this year was particularly stressful because of a drier-than-normal year, especially the month of May
- New York state ranks sixth nationally in producing Christmas trees, making it an estimated $14 million industry, according to the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York
- In 2022, consumers faced a roughly 10% increase in the sale price of Christmas trees nationwide, an impact of inflation
While most Americans may only think about their Christmas trees closer to the holidays, Emmerich lives and breathes Christmas trees year-round. He has 20,000 trees across 10 acres, creating a view he says he never takes for granted. His choose-and-cut business attracts customers from the Hudson Valley and New York City.
But this year, Emmerich said, was particularly stressful because of a drier-than-normal year.
“Every year has been getting hotter and hotter. And then this year it started out, we had [a] pretty reasonable amount of moisture in the ground in spring, then in May everything stopped, and there was no rain whatsoever in May, which is normally not the case,” he said.
Emmerich’s crop has since recovered, and he said his premium trees are well-hydrated and less likely to lose their needles now.
With over 750 farms across the state, New York is among the country’s top Christmas tree producers, ranking sixth in the nation. Around 300,000 New York-grown trees are sold each year, making it a $14 million industry for the state, according to the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York.
After not raising his prices last year, Emmerich said his customers will see a modest price increase this year.
“I’ll probably be in the 6-8% increase this year, and that’s because [of] increase cost for labor,” he said.
Local sale prices vary across the state and country. In 2022, consumers faced a roughly 10% increase in the sale price of Christmas trees nationwide, an impact of inflation. But the outlook is expected to be more promising this season.
“Much of the cost increase that went into the business in 2022 has sort of stabilized,” said Tim O’Connor, the executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association.
For farmers like Emmerich, the dedication to the trees remains the same despite the weather and inflation factors.
“The trees are … they’re my friends,” Emmerich said.