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Pine Needle in a Haystack? US Faces Christmas 2017 Tree Shortage

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Christmas tree decorations at the GUM-Fair on the Red Square in Moscow - Sputnik International
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With Christmas around the corner, many Americans are thinking about the perfect time to buy their perfect Christmas tree. This year, they’re going to have to be prepared to shell out a little more for it, though: A shortage of local trees in several US states will likely cause tree prices to spike this season.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, tree farms in North Carolina and Oregon have been affected the most by recent droughts and wildfires. Local tree farmers in states like Arizona, California and Texas also predict tree shortages in 2017 due to drought. 

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The limited supply is expected to increase prices by as much as 10 percent during the holidays.

"There is a touch of an undersupply," National Christmas Tree Association spokesman Doug Hundley said, CBS reported. "If you're a last-minute shopper, your particular retailer may sell out a week early this year, depending on where you're shopping."

A July study by GWD Forestry predicted that the shortage will persist until 2025. The study also stated that the number of Christmas trees being planted across the US decreased from 5.6 million in 2010 to 3.7 million in 2015.

Exporters and tree sellers are advising people to buy Christmas trees early this year. "Our biggest challenges are having enough trees to supply customers and just getting phone calls after phone calls after phone calls of people desperate for trees that don't exist," Jason Hupp of Hupp Farms in Oregon told Statesman Journal.

Sellers have also said that even though real trees will be more expensive in 2017, they don't want to allow prices to climb so high they end up driving customers into the arm of plastic trees. 

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"If we push retail prices too high, we risk pushing someone to a fake tree. That's something we have to be sensitive to," Mark Arkills of Holiday Tree Farms in Oregon said, CBS Philly reports.

Hundley recommends that Christmas shoppers interested in getting the best trees purchase them between November 25 and December 1.

"We do have confidence people will be able to find a real tree, but they should shop early. I wouldn't be scared to buy one before Thanksgiving," Hundley said.

Perhaps even Charlie Brown's wispy tree will find a happy home this year.

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