Hawaii will likely see fewer, more expensive Christmas trees this year

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You might still be planning your last-minute Halloween costume, or stocking up on candy.

But if you plan on getting a Christmas tree this year, consider yourself forewarned.

There will likely be fewer trees coming into the islands this year, and those that do get shipped here will cost you more.

They’re some of the most highly anticipated shipping containers to arrive in the islands each year.

But this year, there will likely be fewer of them coming, says Richard Tajiri, also known as Mr. Christmas, Hawaii’s largest importer of Christmas trees.

“I think nationwide it is, because the West Coast has gone dry, for whatever reason, they couldn’t get the trees out. They don’t have the trees,” Tajiri said. “A lot of the old-timers, who are 75 or 80 years old, they don’t want to grow trees anymore because it takes 12 years to grow it, and thereby there’s no farms. The farms are closing up.”

Tajiri says nowadays farmers are turning to different crops, and the farmers still in the business are dealing with a blow from Mother Nature.

“We didn’t have fires up there, but it was the heat and 96 straight days without any rain. That’s a long summer,” Tajiri said.

Tajiri says many Christmas tree sellers like him, who have been in the business for decades, can’t get enough inventory. On top of that, farmers still in business are selling tress for 25 to 30 percent more.

“You think that’s bad. People from here have to go all the way to North Carolina and Wisconsin to buy other types of trees, and they’re drying up, because they’re short. They’re really short out there, too,” Tajiri said.

Mr. Christmas is still one of the lucky ones. We asked him, “So for all of us here in Hawaii, how is this going to you?”

“We got pretty close to our quota that we normally bring over,” he said. “I’m a little short. I’m trying to decide on getting maybe more Dougs (Douglas firs) or something like that,” he said.

Last year, Tajiri brought in about 4,700 trees. This year will probably closer to 4,200 or 4,300.

Tajiri says the first batch of trees, the large ones destined for hotels, are getting packed up right now.

He should start selling to the general public the Friday after Thanksgiving.

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