Christmas Tree Costs in New Jersey Are Rising as Farmers Deal With Soaring Expenses

This holiday season, some New Jersey residents may have to spend more money on a Christmas tree due to farmers raising their prices to cover rising labor, fuel, and fertilizer costs.

Data from the Real Christmas Tree Board, a national research and promotion organization, shows that Christmas tree prices have risen across the country. More than 98% of growers predicted that their wholesale prices would increase this year, with some anticipating increases of 20% or more in the cost of their trees.

But according to the group, the majority of growers, or roughly 71% of those polled, said they were raising their wholesale prices by 5% to 15% in comparison to last year. Many consumers will see higher pricing as a result.

Christmas Tree Costs in New Jersey

Owner of Wyckoff’s Christmas Tree Farm in Belvidere, Warren County, and third-generation tree farmer John Wyckoff, said recent inflation has driven up costs on his farm.

According to him, fertilizer increased by about 350% over the last three years while off-road diesel fuel increased by 500%. Wyckoff claimed he was forced to raise his tree prices in order for the Warren County company to remain solvent due to increased labor costs brought on by increases in the minimum wage.

“It’s not cheap to do business in New Jersey,” he said. Sincerely, I believe the Christmas tree farming business is really resourceful.

He calculates that he has raised prices by around 10% in comparison to the previous season. A 7-foot Fraser fir would cost about $105 this year at the price of $14 per foot for the trees, according to him.

He said, “We went up just a little to help maintain, or keep our head above water.”

Wyckoff said he looks for additional ways to save money in order to avoid raising prices too much. He might decide to purchase a used item of equipment rather than a brand-new one.

On Thursday, December 1, 2022, a sign at the entrance to the Am-Jac Christmas Tree Farm on Plains Road in Augusta. NJ Advance Media | Julian Leshay

Richard and Susan Longcore, husband and wife co-owners of Am-Jac Christmas Tree Farm in Augusta, Sussex County, about 30 miles to the northeast, claimed they didn’t raise their prices this year.

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Susan Longcore noted that the pair made the choice despite rising fuel costs on their end, explaining that they kept the pricing the same because “everything’s hard on people.”

This year, every tree at the tiny, six-acre Sussex County farm costs $55. However, the farm’s stock has already been rapidly depleted, with the tallest 10- to 12-foot trees largely being lost.

After not raising rates last year, Tim Dunne, who owns Woodsedge Tree Farm in Belvidere with his wife, said he did so this year by around 7%. According to him, the price of fertilizer has tripled, and it is more difficult to obtain and more expensive to buy the equipment needed to grow and sell the trees.

Christmas Tree Costs in New Jersey

However, consumers are aware that costs are rising across the board, especially in food stores, and most are aware that Christmas trees have been affected by inflation as well, according to Dunne.

His farm charges $60 for each spruce tree, regardless of size, and $70 per year for fir trees. However, the business hasn’t suffered; according to Dunne, this year has seen record sales and tip amounts for his staff.

Fuel and fertilizer, two essential agriculture inputs, “actually affect us hard, but we don’t want to raise our prices too high, to anger consumers,” he said.

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According to Chris Butler, CEO of the National Tree Company in Cranford, the cost of artificial trees has also gone up this year. According to him, base prices have increased by 10% to 15%.

“However, we are seeing a very large increase in promotions with up to 30% to 50% off,” Butler said. “This is due to slow sales and high inventories. Therefore, people will be able to purchase trees this year for less than they could last year.

According to Jill Sidebottom, a retired extension specialist in North Carolina and seasonal spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association, real Christmas trees can take anywhere from five to 15 years to fully mature, reflecting any fluctuating costs.

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Farmers pay throughout the initial planting and final harvesting stages, as well as each year the tree develops. Therefore, she continued, “A farmer must invest over a lengthy period of time.

However, Christmas tree growers contend that in addition to offering a tangible experience to customers, they also support the local economy, increase employment, and preserve open space in the neighborhood.

According to Wyckoff, “the real Christmas tree helps real farmers keep real farms operating.”

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