Could Disease and an Invasive Bug End a Christmas Tradition in the Future? - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Could Disease and an Invasive Bug End a Christmas Tradition in the Future?

A annual custom for some is facing an uncertain future, according to some farm owners in the region.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Will an Insect Invasion Cause Christmas Tree Shortage?

    People around our area have already started shopping for their Christmas Trees but there has been a lot of conversation about a possible tree shortage. The lantern fly invasion is not helping farmers grow trees that take around 10 to 15 years to grow.

    (Published Friday, Nov. 23, 2018)

    It’s a tradition that goes back generations for many families: heading to the tree farm a few weeks before Christmas to find the holiday centerpiece.

    Some look for a tall tree. Some look for a fat tree. Some want sharp needles. Others want soft ones. All are looking for some QT with the fam.

    But that annual custom is now facing an uncertain future, according to some farm owners in the region: In New Jersey, some farmers are seeing disease hit Douglas firs particularly hard and in Pennsylvania, an invasive insect is raising some concern.

    “We’re getting to the point now where we have three to four years left of selling these trees,” Ryan Olson, owner of Indian Acres Farm in Medford, New Jersey said, of Douglas firs.

    It takes 10 to 15 years to grow a Christmas tree, so a disease wiping out some of the stock could have lasting implications, he said.

    Across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, the Spotted Lanternfly could impact trees across the state, though some experts say the bug typically stays away from trees typically used for Christmas. The Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association also said farmers are prepared to combat those insects.

    For some families like Marianella Olivero's, who brought her family to Indian Acres Farm on Friday, chopping down a tree is a new experience they hope doesn't end anytime soon.

    The Oliveros came to the United States from Puerto Rico, and this is the first time they are picking out a tree at a farm.

    “It’s a wonderful new experience," she said. "We only see it in movies.”