The 2021 Christmas tree season comes during a year marked by shipping delays, tree shortages and the effects of inflation.
Still, Brookshire Farms co-owner Shawn Callaway believes tree sales may continue to rise.
The farm, located at 4747 Los Osos Valley Rd. in San Luis Obispo, is one of a handful of locations selling real Christmas trees on the Central Coast.
Eight years have passed since the farm first began selling Christmas trees, shipped to San Luis Obispo County from their northwest Oregon tree farm. They began selling their several varieties of Christmas trees on Friday, Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving.
Friday’s and Sunday’s sale numbers broke all-time records at the farm.
“Friday was crazy,” Callaway told KSBY. “We actually sold 48 trees in 45 minutes.”
At Brookshire Farms, tree supply has not been an issue – yet.
“Check back in about two weeks,” Callaway said, describing Christmas tree “procrastinators” in San Luis Obispo County. “A lot of people wait till the last 10 to 15 days [before Christmas]. There will be some trees, but not what they want. It will be interesting to see what happens.”
Callaway expects to have tree inventory through Dec. 12 or 15, marking a shorter season than past years.
“There is a shortage. I can normally get trees through the 20th of December,” he said.
Callaway estimated that tree supplies across San Luis Obispo county are about 4,000 or 4,500 trees short of demand.
Part of that is due to a June heatwave that damaged a million and a half trees in Oregon and Washington. Additionally, some tree sellers on the Central Coast have closed their doors this year.
Santa Maria tree shoppers are no longer able to shop at the Christmas Tree Corner, whose owner retired last year after selling trees for decades on South Broadway.
Sunny Acres, a sober living facility on Los Osos Valley Rd. in San Luis Obispo, is not selling trees this year, they announced Nov. 17 on their Facebook page.
Brookshire Farms has raised most of their tree prices by about $10 across the board. Callaway says the big trees, describing those 10 feet tall or higher, went up $15 per tree.
Still, the raised prices aren’t making up for the cost increases the farm is seeing.
“Trucking is through the roof and very difficult to get,” Callaway said. “We factored for increased costs, and we factored poorly.”
Each truckload of trees costs up to $2,000 more to ship than it has in years past, Callaway says. The farm works hard to keep the cut trees, which travel via truck in refrigerated trailers, as fresh as possible.
Heat is another factor crews at Brookshire Farms are dealing with.
“It’s 92 degrees here at the farm in Los Osos,” Callaway said on Tuesday afternoon. “Christmas trees don’t like the beating hot radiant sun.”
The farm is making adjustments to keep the trees cool and hydrated, which include shade shelters and rotating the trees’ direction throughout the day. At night, they cover the trees in burlap and black fabric and irrigate them.
Brookshire Farms is selling trees at their San Luis Obispo location and at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds parking lot.
Christmas trees are a business Callaway described as a gamble and a risk—a statement that 2021 has proved true.