A few years ago, some unfortunate circumstances left my mother without a tree just a few days before Christmas. Her much-loved and older than the hills artificial tree was no more and we had to find a new tree post haste.

We opted for a real tree. Just a few days before Christmas, we had no problem finding a nice selection of trees to choose from. With just a few days to go until Christmas, it was still buyers choice.  We picked up a nice Douglas Fir for under $40.  Fast forward to today and well, not so much. In fact, if you’re looking for a real Christmas tree in Wichita Falls, you may be totally out of luck.

Optimist Club Tree lot-empty. The Home Depot Big Tree Tent-not there this year. Lowe’s-couldn’t find any. For days now, the town has been barren of real Christmas trees. And there’s a perfectly good reason, too. There’s a nation-wide shortage and it’s been a big one, too. A manager at the Wichita Falls Home Depot confirmed that the shortage played a role in the decision to scale back the display methods this year, with all of their available trees being sold off the garden center patio area.

Drought in California has been nothing short of disastrous for the industry, which saw 90 percent of seedlings die last year. Oregon, the nation’s largest supplier of Christmas trees, has been similarly affected. And a down supply translates into higher prices. Christmas tree prices are up as much as 50 percent in some areas of the country.

But there may be hope down the line. Tree farmers hope this year’s El Nino will ease the drought, particularly on the west coast. Supplied will normalize eventually, but for now, if you find yourself in need of a last-minute tree, you might as well shop inside the store for the artificial variety this year.

Sources:Time, KPLC-TV