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Christmas trees are in short supply, so get yours now, Pa. farmer says

Christmas tree farmer: Why you shouldn't wait to get your tree
Christmas tree farmer: Why you shouldn't wait to get your tree 03:28

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Christmas trees are in short supply, but there's still time to get one for the holiday.

Still, you've got to act quickly, as multiple droughts and a heat dome harmed the supply of trees like Douglas firs and Fraser firs.

"There have always been droughts and floods. The droughts are becoming a little bit more severe, they're lasting a little bit longer," Michael Wyesession, professor of geophysics at Washington University in St. Louis, told CBS News.

With that in mind, we spoke with Roger Unangst, who owns Unangst Tree Farms in Bath, Pennsylvania.

"There's definitely a shortage this year, as last year, and the year before, and this year," Unangst said.   

Since it takes about eight to 10 years for a Christmas tree to grow, the industry is still feeling the effects of issues with the growing process thanks to issues back in the early 2010s.

"We were having trouble getting the transplants that we needed," Unangst said. "All the other growers were. For instance, we'd order 12,000, and they'd send us 8,000, they just didn't have them." 

The farm has 7,000 trees this year. 

"They just seem to be going faster and faster each year," he said.

Some tree farms in the area are already closing, having sold their supply. Unangst says he typically opens on Black Friday and closes on Dec. 21.

"The last two years we've closed right around the 10th," Unangst said.

(This year's severe weather may also have an impact on supplies eight to 10 years out.)   

Maybe that makes fake trees more appealing … or it just means you'll have to buy earlier.

The Real Christmas Tree Board surveyed wholesale tree growers this year and released results in the fall. While a quarter of the growers surveyed told the board they planned to increase prices in 2023 compared to 2022, more than a quarter didn't expect to increase prices.

Last year was a different story, when 71% of wholesale growers said they were raising prices, according to the RCTB.

Tips to keep your Christmas tree healthy and prevent fires

The best way to keep your Christmas tree happy and healthy through the season is to water it every day, Unangst said. This should also limit the number of needles falling on your floor and reduce your vaccuuming.

Keep it away from a heat source as well - that will dry the tree out and it's not reversible.

"If the tree goes dry for a 12-14 hour period, the damage is done," Unangst said.

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