Tree farms in western Pa. adapt to shortage, severe weather

BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. — The weekend after Thanksgiving is a popular time for buying live Christmas trees but this year, it may be more difficult to find the one you want due to a tree shortage.

Friday was opening day at Pine Hill Farms in Butler County and many families picked out their favorite Christmas tree.

“This is a tradition for us, so we look forward to it every year,” said Melanie Dougherty.

This Christmas, the Dougherty’s have big plans and expect to get together with their family to celebrate.

“This year is definitely more special,” said John Dougherty. “We are looking forward to a normal Christmas all around.”

But a Christmas tree shortage may put a damper on the holidays for some.

The owner of Pine Hill Farms said there are fewer farms around, some closing up, others impacted by severe weather.

“Among all of our competition and other farms there’s a tree shortage out there and quite a few of our customers called ahead in the last two weeks to come out and tag the trees,” said Ken Dambaugh, the owner of Pine Hill Farms.

Dambaugh said they have enough inventory because they planted twice as many trees so they could sell between 500 and 600 trees this season.

The family-owned farm, which has been around for about 70 years, is one of the biggest local tree farms.

It has a great crop of live Fraser fir trees which is rare for our area.

“In western Pa, there’s only one or two farms that actually has fresh Fraser fir trees like we have so many of the other farms have Canaan fir or Douglas fir but not Fraser fir they normally grow in North Carolina,” said Dambaugh.

Pine Hill Farms also has other types of trees including blue spruce. If you’re looking for a particular type of tree, the farm suggests calling ahead of time to ensure you get the tree you want.