Christmastree2

After coming off a successful season last year, Cris and Sherry Crawford are tending to their farm to ensure many customers have a real Christmas tree ready to be decorated in their homes.

Evening Star Pines, 9820 Evening Star Rd., opens Friday. As long as there are trees to sell, the business will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekend 

A selection of more than 500 trees is available in different sizes and species. Scotch, white pines, spruce and Fraser firs are on the farm ready to be picked and sawed by festive families. 

Some trees, such as the Frasers, have been harder to come by for the Crawfords as a result of a tree shortage. Evening Star Pines has to ship in all of its Fraser fir trees from Michigan because the weather in Kansas won’t allow the trees to grow properly. 

“It takes eight to 10 years or even more for these trees to get this size. In Michigan, there was a drought and deer issues many years ago, which is causing problems now,” Sherry Crawford said.

Christmastrees

Sherry and Cris Crawford are ready for Christmas tree shoppers to return Friday.

Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association President Phil Wegman said the problem is widespread since many tree farmers ship in trees from Northern states in addition to growing their own trees.

The shortage primarily affects the most popular-sized trees that are 6 feet to 9 feet tall. Smaller or bigger trees are more readily available.

Another more recent factor in the shortage could be the number of trees sold last year due to the pandemic, Wegman said. As many families were stuck at home, real trees became a popular holiday item to have.

“Families said OK, we're gonna celebrate Christmas at home and so that's what they did,” Wegman said. “We had a tremendous season last year of people coming in buying real farm-grown Christmas trees.”

Last year, the Crawfords saw a huge demand opening weekend, setting a new record for trees sold in a day. The couple also sold out of Christmas wreaths last year and have crafted more this year for more customers. 

The business had pandemic safety measures for customers last year. However, if customers are comfortable, activities like sleigh rides are something the couple would be open to bringing back this year.

The Crawfords have eight acres of their 40-acre farm filled with trees and have already planted hundreds of more trees for the future. 

The idea of having a real tree in homes is an important aspect of why the Crawfords continue their business. 

“First of all, they smell good. The ones I have are gonna last in the house unless they put them by a furnace. But they're just better than the fake ones,”  Cris Crawford said.

That holiday pine smell is something both of the Crawfords love.

“Even just the two of us, I like having a real tree because it’s just a tradition that we have, and I’ve never owned a fake tree,” Sherry Crawford said.

Reach reporter William Crow at eudoratimes@gmail.com.

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