Oregon Christmas tree harvest underway; prices expected to be up - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Christmas tree harvest underway; prices expected to be up in 2017

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OREGON CITY, OR (KPTV) -
Tis the season for the Pacific Northwest Christmas tree harvest as farms across the state have started cutting, bundling and shipping out thousands of trees. 
Washington and Oregon combined are expected to harvest more than 4 million trees in a months time. At McKenzie Farms outside of Oregon City, workers were busy Monday sorting trees.
"We're shipping to 28 different states," CEO Ken Cook said, "including Mexico, Canada and Asia."
He estimates they will cut anywhere between 800,000-850,000 trees. Cook said this year is going to be one to talk about when it comes to the quality of trees coming from Oregon.
"The consumer is getting a tree this year that is unlike any tree they've seen in their home in the last 25 years," Cook said. "We've had the moisture, we've had the cold weather and the trees are as fresh as they've ever been."
But that may come at a higher price. Cook said the demand for trees is about 6 million, while Washington and Oregon only have 4.2 million trees ready for market. That means retail prices are up $4 to $6 per tree. 
The increase comes as there is not only a short supply but also increased labor and freight costs. The increase in price is, however, good news for the Oregon Christmas tree industry. During the economic downturn, the industry was hit hard by an oversupply. 
Cook said in 2007 there were roughly 900 growers. In 2017, that number was closer to 400.
"The industry has never been stronger," Cook said, "we have been through ten years of the worst economic conditions that we could possibly go through."
Around 92 percent of the trees grown in Oregon and Washington will be exported out of the region. California is the largest market.
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