Stumped: The hunt for height hits a snag for Christmas tree shoppers

Nov 26, 2023

Finding the right Christmas tree is on the minds of many at this time of year.

But when it comes to height, the Covid pandemic, a not-so-good economy and high demand for a limited supply may effect families’ chances of finding the perfect tree.

Wareham Christmas tree businesses warn customers of the lack of tall trees this holiday season. Anything over 9 feet is going to be hard to come by this year, they say.

For many, the day after Thanksgiving is the perfect time to go out and get a tree. For Danielle and Jason Madanjian, it’s tradition.

The couple, donning Santa Claus hats, decided to come to Nessralla Farmstand and Greenhouses, located on Sandwich Road, for the first time to pick out a tree that was just right for them.

What makes the perfect Christmas tree?

Danielle said living trees, as opposed to artificial ones, give off a pine scent that brings back that wonderful Christmas nostalgia of being a kid in December.

Jason said it’s also the size of the tree.

“It needs to be taller than you for sure,” he said. “You need to be able to reach and you can't quite hit the top.”

He added the goal is to achieve that “childlike sense of wonder like when you're a little kid and everything just kind of towers over you.”

And then, of course, needing a little help to put the star right on top, Danielle said.

Lucky for the Madanjians, they came out to get their tree when many of the sizing options are still available.

However, in just a week or two, tall trees might be hard to come by, according to the shop’s owner Saba Nessralla.

He said the quality and freshness of the trees are there, but the quantity, especially in regard to the taller trees, is lacking.

Nessralla said he orders approximately 1,600 trees every year and this year some parts of his order had to be substituted because of the lack of supply.

He said he attributes this loss of quantity to the poor economy over the past decade in which many farmers were not planting as many trees.

“Now everybody's looking for trees and they don't have the sizes that they're supposed to have,” he added. “It kind of caught up with them.”

Melissa Ferreira, a manager at Olson’s Garden Center and employee for the past 25 years, shared similar concerns about Christmas tree sizes this year.

“I could not get anything over nine feet this year,” Ferreira said. “It's been like that for the last few years since Covid.”

In addition to the Covid pandemic, Ferreira attributes the lack of large trees to the high demand for them.

“We can't grow them as quickly as we're selling them,” she said.

However, for those worried about getting their tree too early, Ferreira shared a few tips to ensure they stay fresh through the holiday.

“It's a misconceived notion that you need to wait longer for it to be fresh,” she said. “Once the trees are cut, they're cut and they form a sap seal.”

The type of tree can also determine the necessary steps to keep it fresh, she added. For example, a fraser fir tree may be a bit slender, but the needles are thicker and the tree will retain them better than a balsam fir tree.

For balsam trees, Ferreira recommends using a preservative in addition to water as those trees lose their needles at a faster rate.

However, no matter the tree, Ferreira said the key to freshness is to cut the trunk before setting it up in order to remove the sap seal. 

Also, she said many people don’t realize how much water a tree takes in. A lack of water can lead to the formation of a new sap seal that will need to be cut again in order for the tree to absorb water.

Ferreira said Olson’s, located at 3177 Cranberry Highway in East Wareham, sold out last year by Dec. 10. Taking into account the short supply of tall trees and the demand for living trees in general, she suggests getting a tree as early as possible.