Christmas Tree Prices Rise Again as California Growers Move to Planting More Lucrative Crops

Sherri Marquez and her husband, John, shop for a Christmas tree at Todd's Christmas Trees in Long Beach on Nov. 29. (Credit: Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Sherri Marquez and her husband, John, shop for a Christmas tree at Todd's Christmas Trees in Long Beach on Nov. 29. (Credit: Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Strolling among rows of Douglas and noble firs searching for the perfect Christmas tree at the YMCA lot in South Pasadena has been a holiday tradition spanning generations of San Gabriel Valley families.

But this year, for the first time in five decades, the South Pasadena-San Marino YMCA will not be selling trees as a holiday fundraiser after the organization was unable to find a supplier with enough high-quality stock.

“We have families that I know this year are going to come to us and be disappointed,” Executive Director Rick Politte said.

The Christmas tree industry took a turn a decade ago when the Great Recession hit and growers started planting fewer trees. For California, the problem has been exacerbated as growers in the Pacific Northwest — where most of California’s Christmas trees are grown — moved away from planting pines in favor of more lucrative crops like hazelnuts and, in some cases, marijuana.

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