People have been warned to buy their real Christmas trees as early as possible amid fears of a shortage this festive season - and they are set to be more expensive than ever.
Experts said the supply of trees has been hit by a "perfect storm" of political and environmental issues ranging from supply chain issues to a drought in 2018 affecting younger saplings that should now be ready. The most impacted sizes are the best selling six footers - these are expected to be more scarce than usual, meaning prices are likely to be higher than previous years.
Record summer temperatures this year have also reduced the number of trees likely to be available. The heatwave led many trees to shed leaves early this year in what some commentators described as a ‘false autumn’.
Evergreen Christmas trees stopped growing due to the heat stress and many plantations that could not irrigate experienced significant losses of growing stock, according to experts at GardeningExpress.co.uk.
Founder Chris Bonnett said: "Christmas tree growers have really struggled this year and we are expecting supplies of quality trees to be significantly impacted - so if you want a good one, you need to order as early as possible or visit a retailer in person - we only sell top grade trees, but retailers usually buy mixed pallets from plantations to offer a variety of sizes - no doubt there will be a higher ratio of lower grade trees in their this year.
"Most people order up their Christmas tree at the end of November and start of December and give it precious little thought before then. But for Christmas trees to be lush and verdant come December they had to be planted well in advance and they needed plenty of water in the months leading up to December.
"That just hasn’t been the case for all suppliers this year. Growers have had to struggle with record temperatures, water and labour shortages which has led to a reduction in quality and quantity of the crop.
"It will be a problem particularly for those wanting large bushy Christmas trees, there is definitely going to be fewer of those around this year, and they will carry a premium price. The best advice is to pre-order your tree as early as possible to make sure you don’t miss out."