Dale Barker had previously sold out his annual allotment of cut-your-own Christmas trees in southern Fayette County in eight days.
This year, it only took three days to sell out of about 1,000 trees over the Thanksgiving weekend. The farm already is closed for 2017, according to its website.
If the farm sells more than 1,000 trees, it has to cut into tree stock for next year, Barker said, and that’s inadvisable.
One of the two final trees went to a customer who claimed her tree over the phone.
“She said, ‘I’ll take one. I don’t even need to see it,’” Barker said.
The Barker farm, five minutes from Hamburg, sold 365 trees on the day after Thanksgiving — more than the 350 it sold in all of 2002, the first year it was open.
Baker said “perfect weather over three days” contributed to his farm’s quick-selling season: “We’ve got the customers., We’ve just got to have the trees.”
Some regional media outlets had speculated that a Christmas tree shortage was possible this year. That, coupled with bright and crisp post-Thanksgiving Day weather, might have led families to get out early to obtain their Christmas greenery.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there is a shortage of holiday trees in certain states this year — as there was last year — resulting in price hikes and limited supplies, and signaling a struggling industry.
The supply of trees is a “bit tight this year, as it was in 2016,” because fewer trees were planted seven to 10 years ago, said Tim O’Connor, executive director for the association.
The organization advises buyers to buy their trees early to ensure a choice of the best selections.
Tom Nieman, who sells trees in Fayette County at Nieman’s Tree Farm, said, “Every tree is the epitome of a Christmas tree.” He expected them to last through the first weekend in December. Then he re-calculated.
“Maybe not all day Saturday,” he said.
The trees being sold at Nieman’s were planted six to nine years ago, he said.
Nieman sells about 1,000 trees a year. Some customers tag the trees they want for later cutting. His farm had sold an estimated 600 to 700 trees through Monday afternoon. On Sunday, customers were getting rambunctious, Nieman said: “about 4 p.m., I said, ‘Let’s shut it down. ... People literally ran over the closed signs and came on back. They just ran right on over them.”
At Kovalic’s Christmas Tree Farm in Clark County, business was similarly brisk.
“I haven’t done a tally, but we were slammed this weekend (after Thanksgiving),” said Kim Miller, daughter of Pete Kovalic Sr., who owns the farm.
The Kovalic family has a backup plan: Miller’s brother, Pete Kovalic Jr., also has a tree farm, at 158 Little Stoner Road. “I don’t think I would say we have plenty of trees. I think I would say we are open. Between the two of us, people can probably find what they are looking for,” she said.
Trees are priced by type: Scotch and white pine are $6 to $8 a foot, Miller said. Spruce and fir, which take longer to grow, are more.
“I definitely have trees,” she said. “I just can’t guarantee I’ll have the size somebody is looking for.”
Some cut-your-own tree farms in Central Kentucky
Kovalic’s Christmas Tree Farm. 487 Ecton Rd., Winchester. White and Scotch pine, Canaan fir, Douglas fir, Norway and blue spruce. Choose-and-cut or balled and burlapped. Trees shaken and wrapped. Cut white and Scotch pine $6-$8 a foot. Spruce or fir $10 a foot, balled and burlapped $15 a foot. Hours: 1-6 p.m. Thu., Fri.; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., Sun. Through Dec. 24. Directions: From Lexington on Interstate 64, take Exit 96, turn right onto Ky. 627. At first stoplight, turn left on Veterans Memorial Parkway (Ky. 1958), go 1 mile to Ky. 1960 or Ecton Road; turn right, go quarter-mile to farm on left. Contact: 859-744-2930: 859-808-0132. Facebook.com/kovalicschristmastreefarm.
Nieman’s Tree Farm. 5100 Sulphur Ln., Lexington. Choose-and-cut Fraser fir, 5- to 6-foot tree $60, 6- to 7-foot tree $80. Trees up to 16 feet. Saws available; farm will cut and load tree. Portable restroom. Hours: 9 a.m.-dark Nov. 22 and 24, Sat. and Sun., 3 p.m. to dark Mon.-Fri., through Dec. 24. Directions: From Man o’ War Boulevard, take Todds Road 3 miles out of town, turn right on Sulphur Lane. Farm is on the right. Contact: 859-263-4535, 859-552-3532. Kychristmastree.com, email@example.com.
Hutton-Loyd Tree Farm. 644 Christmas Tree Rd., Wallingford. White pine, Norway and Colorado blue spruce, Fraser firs. Choose-and-cut and pre-dug trees available. Cut trees $30-$100. Dug trees start at $45. Fraser firs from North Carolina start at $65. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., noon-5 Sun. through Dec. 10. 859-474-0287. HL-treefarm.com.
Cathole Bend Tree Farm. 1243 Cathole Bend Rd., Lancaster. You-cut Norway, blue and white spruce; white pine and Canaan fir. Trees priced individually start at $15. All fir trees $56 any size. All other trees $45, tax included. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Through Dec. 24. Directions: Take U.S. 27 to Ky. 52 in Lancaster, turn west toward Danville and go .8 mile. Turn south on Ky. 1150 (Old Danville Rd.) and go 2.8 miles to the bridge across Dix River. Don’t cross the bridge. Drive straight down Cathole Bend Rd.; the road ends at the farm. Contact: 859-985-7044.
Michels Family Farm. 4275 Ky. 1316, Sparta. You-cut or the farm will cut for you. Scotch and white pine. Saws provided. Trees are shaken and baled. Most trees $50 to $70. Wreaths and swags. Hand-painted gourds, ornaments, tobacco stick stars. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.Sat. and Sun. through Dec. 25. Located 7 miles from Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Contact: 502-750-7000. 859-643-2511. Facebook.com/michelsfamilyfarmfun.