Researchers at the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs have identified a 40% decrease in Indiana Christmas tree farms since 2002. The decline in Indiana is more drastic than the 27% drop in other parts of the country.
Researchers attributed the decline to aging farmers and the difficulty of growing the more popular short-needled varieties of trees such as spruces and firs. Many tree farmers now require these varieties of trees to be shipped in from other states, like North Carolina and Michigan, according to IU News.
The tree varieties commonly used for Christmas trees take about six years to reach the appropriate size, and environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, drought and flooding often prevent them from reaching maturity. Invasive bug species are also a risk.
Associate professor James Farmer and other study researchers suspect this pattern will continue in coming years.
The study analyzed consumer behavior and found that young consumers are more likely to make a tradition out of tree shopping than their older counterparts, who are likely to shop for a plastic tree or forgo one entirely.
Younger consumers also tend to have a focus on local agriculture, which prompts the time and money investment in local tree shopping.
Researchers collected data from approximately 100 Indiana tree farmers and 1,500 randomly selected Indiana residents in order to draw these conclusions. The full story from IU News is available here.