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Christmas trees: Real or fake?

Susan Collins-Smith Christmas Tree Farm
With rising prices everywhere, families may expect to pay more for their choose-and-cut Christmas trees this year. But that may not be the case.
What took me so long to go green?

I have to admit, mine were fake.  

I had only ever had artificial Christmas trees in my home. That is until about three years ago, when, on a whim, we decided to visit a local tree farm and purchase a real tree. I can’t remember what inspired our decision to go with a real tree after years of pulling the fake one out of storage, but now I look back and wonder what took me so long to go green. 

Far from the extra work I expected, a real tree is actually much easier. There’s no fluffing of artificial branches that have been crammed in a box for the past 11 months. No strategic placement of ornaments to hide the ugly gaps. No wondering how you’ll ever get your tree back in that old box once Christmas is over. 

Initially, I was concerned the tree would not last the entire season. But the Leyland cypress we purchased looked just as lovely on January 1 as the day we brought it home. Yes, you have to water it, but that’s a good job for a kid who is trying to get on Santa’s good side. Alternatively, for about $10 you can purchase a watering funnel that eliminates the need to crawl around under the tree to water. 

There’s also the experience of searching for the perfect tree. Digging through the attic is hardly a fun family activity, and it puts no one in the Christmas spirit. My one shopping tip: it’s going to look a LOT bigger once you get it home. 

Over the long run, we may end up spending more money when buying a real tree year after year, but on the bright side, we’re investing in rural economies, instead of purchasing petroleum-based trees that are largely imported from China.  

It hasn’t been the easiest year for Christmas tree growers in the Midsouth. Storms and unseasonably wet weather contributed to tree loss. Meanwhile, costs for just about every input went up. However, Mississippi State Extension experts reported overall Christmas tree prices were unchanged from 2020.  

“Since the Christmas tree market is local, growers near a larger city may be able to charge more for trees, while those in rural areas may not,” said John Kushla, professor and forestry specialist with the MSU Extension Service. 
Kushla said choose-and-cut trees are selling for $9 to $14 per foot, which is in line with 2020 prices. Trees that are 6 to 8 feet tall will sell closer to the lower end of that range, and larger trees that are over 10 feet tall will sell at the higher end of that range.  

Christmas trees may be the one thing we aren’t spending more on this holiday season. Maybe I should get two. 

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