Nova Scotia

U.S. ad campaign making it harder to buy Christmas trees in Nova Scotia

Christmas tree producers in Lunenburg County, N.S., say it may be a little harder than usual to find a tree this year.

Big orders heading to the U.S. mean people in Halifax in particular could struggle to get a tree

Nova Scotia is producing plenty of Christmas trees this year, but many are bound for the U.S.

Christmas tree producers in Lunenburg County, N.S., say it may be a little harder than usual to find a tree this year.

"We're getting asked for tree orders that are getting over what we can supply," said Andrew Crouse, president of the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Association.

Growers in Lunenburg County cut about 500,000 trees each year. That's roughly half of all the trees cut in the province each November. Crouse said about 80 per cent of those are trucked out of the region into the United States and Ontario.

The demand in the U.S. is stronger, he said, because the tree industry south of the border is spending millions more on marketing this year, specifically to millennials. And it's paying off.

Crouse said his growers are getting requests both locally and from outside the region and he said they're unable to keep up.

'They're all sold'

Among those still looking is Tim Hines, manager at the Bedford Farmers Market on the Bedford Highway. Every year for the past 35 years he has ordered up to 350 trees from growers in Lunenburg County. This was the first year he came up empty handed.

"I've been trying now for the last three weeks, four weeks and everybody I talk to, it's the same thing. Nobody's got any trees left. They're all sold," he said.

"There's no trees left to buy, they're all gone. They're all going to the states, or Bermuda. Some of the other islands are taking a lot. If you go down [to Lunenburg County] you'll see lots of trees. But most of them are going on the back of tractor trailers heading south."

On Monday, a container truck drove onto a tree lot in Lunenburg and collected 450 balsam firs. All of them were colour-coordinated according to height, and three-foot-tall trees were just as popular as those six or seven feet tall.

Each tree was tossed onto a conveyor belt and packed upright into the container. Crouse estimated the trees will fetch about $12,000. The question is, with so many trees being shipped out of the region, will there be any left for Nova Scotians?

"Perhaps in Halifax you may have to drive a little bit," Crouse said. "But I think we always have a supply in the rural area. I'm going to say that you should be able to get a tree — with a drive if you have to."

Prices could be up

Kevin Veinotte, owner of U-Cut Christmas Tree Farm in Lunenburg, said cars line up on the street to get into his lot every year. Sometimes he said it can be overwhelming to see so many families waiting to get onto his property to cut their own tree. He expects this year to be the same.

He's telling folks in the city to rest assured: they'll get a tree.

"We ourselves supply some trees into Halifax," he said. "Prices are going to be up a little bit, but not by much. And there will be trees available," he said. 

Both Veinotte and Crouse estimate a six or seven foot tree could cost you $50 or more. Bottom line, Crouse said, is this is a good year to be in the Christmas tree business.

"It's all over on Christmas Day. It's like an election. As soon as Dec. 25th goes through you start working toward the next one."