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Local farmers and retailers struggle to meet demand for tall Christmas Trees

There’s a shortage of Christmas trees nationwide and it is being felt here in the Quad Cities.

MOLINE, Illinois - Customers want tall Christmas trees and both farmers and local shop managers say they're struggling to meet the demand this year.

Quad-City native Brendan O'Brien is home for the holidays and was sent to Wyffels Christmas Tree Farm to try and find the perfect tree for his family's holiday season.

When he arrived, he found that many of the trees were shorter than he expected. He says finding tall trees has become increasingly challenging.

"For the last couple years, I would say we've noticed this more," O'Brien said, who was hoping to find a tree 7 feet or taller.

Rick Wyffels and his wife have been growing and selling Christmas Trees for about 20 years at their farm located at 3319 N. Shore Drive in Moline, Illinois.

This year, the average height of a Christmas Tree there is about 6 feet tall, but it can take anywhere from six to 12 years to grow a tree that tall. Wyffels said most customers want trees 7 to 8 feet tall.

Last year, Wyffels had to close his Christmas Tree Farm because the trees just didn't grow tall enough.

Over the years, complications arose for tree farmers.

In 2008, when the recession hit, many tree farmers planted less seeds. In 2012, a drought had a serious impact on Wyffels slow-growing crop. He lost a field of about 2,000 trees that year.

That's why the effects of the recession and drought is felt now, in 2019.

"Were controlled by nature. If nature doesn`t cooperate, our trees don`t grow," said Wyffels.

He said this year's comeback has been tough.

"This year`s kind of slow because people knew that our trees were too small last year," said Wyffels.

While farmers feel the pressure to grow tall trees, local shops struggle to find tall trees to sell.

"When there`s a shortage like this, we try to deal with it the best we can," said Kate Terrell, General Manager at Wallace's Garden Center. "We usually get about 1,500 trees and this year we had about 700. So, we did sell out very quickly."

Terrell said her inventory of trees sold out on Dec. 10.

She said the nationwide tree shortage means her staff has not been able to serve all of their customers the way they usually can. She is already reaching out to tree-providers to try and secure as many trees as she can for 2020.

Meanwhile, farmer Rick Wyffels says he will continue to work and try to meet demand.

"We're going to keep going with our trees, going to try and get them as tall as we can, and we hope they come back next year," said Wyffels.

Shoppers like Brendan O'Brien settle for what they can find, and say it may be time to consider changes.

"With weather changing and different factors, maybe it is more on us to come up with different, more sustainable traditions," said O'Brien.

A national Christmas Tree shortage with a local impact.