Short answer: supply chain issues. What has become one of the most common phrases in the 2nd half of 2021 is now one of the big reasons you may have trouble finding a tree this year. Fake, or real. Here's why...

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Most Americans have fake trees.

According to the American Christmas Tree Association, 79 million of us will put up a tree for the holidays. They say that 80% of those trees will be artificial and the majority of fake trees are manufactured in Asia. There are probably thousands of them stuck on those giant ships. A quick search found a USA manufacturer of what appear to be very realistic-looking fake trees. Expect to shell out from $249 to over $2,000 for one of their beauties.

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Expect to pay more for a real tree in 2021.

The American Christmas Tree Association wrote in September that consumers can expect to pay 20-30% more for a real tree, due to rising production costs. They said that extreme forest fire activity in the Pacific Northwest this summer will also affect the Christmas tree supply. The trade group added there is no need to panic. Most of us should still be able to find a tree - either real or fake - but they do suggest not waiting until the last minute. An certainly, don't be a tree hoarder... that would just be weird.

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Do what many Montanans do and cut your own tree.

A popular spot for cutting your own Christmas tree is south of Red Lodge in the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Permits are just $5 and are typically available beginning mid-November. You're basically free to pick any tree you'd like, following these guidelines:

  • The tree must be under 15 feet tall.
  • No tree cutting within 100 feet of a stream, lake, or wetlands.
  • "Topping" trees is strongly frowned upon.
  • Cut your tree as close to the ground as possible (Forest Service says 4" is ideal).

Cutting your own tree can be a lot of fun, especially if you make a day out of it in Red Lodge.

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