By Tracey Leong

PERRY HALL, Md. (WJZ)– Not the news people want to hear this time of year. The low supply of trees is forcing some tree retailers to raise their prices or even turn away customers.

At Frostee Tree Farm in Baltimore County, they’ve already sold more than half of their mature trees and they say it’s still early in the season, and they’re on track to run out fairly quickly.

Christmas tree shopping is an annual holiday outing that brings people together, but it’s a tradition that could cost families even more this year.

Experts say the country’s tree supply is less bountiful. The shortage is causing tree retailers to pay extra to fill their lots which increases the average price about 10 percent compared to last year.

Farmers like Paul Stiffler aren’t raising rates, which means he’ll just run out of trees earlier than expected.

“A lot of new customers coming in this year and some of the customers are saying the tree farms they use to go to are closed now,” said Stiffler, Frostee Tree Farm owner. “A lot of people are just getting out of the business, and the younger generation is not taking over like they use to.”

Another factor is the recession. When sales were down, growers couldn’t harvest all of their trees and therefore couldn’t plant a new batch.

Now, about a decade later, which is the time a tree needs to reach about seven feet, we’re seeing the impact.

The best advice from tree farmers is to get your tree now, and don’t wait until the last minute when they could be all gone.

About 30 million Christmas trees are sold across the U.S. every year.

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