By David Highfield

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — You may have heard about a Christmas tree shortage that’s driving up prices in parts of the country.

Prices are reportedly up as much as 25 percent in some areas, and people are being told to buy early before supplies run out. Farms in North Carolina and Oregon are reporting shortages.

Part of the problem is that the recession 10 years ago led growers to plant fewer trees, and now, 10 years later, there aren’t enough. To make matters worse, experts say droughts and wildfires in some states may extend the shortage for several more years.

But KDKA discovered those of us in Western Pennsylvania may be somewhat isolated from the problem.

“I don’t think you really have to worry about it here, if you’re buying Pennsylvania trees. I think Pennsylvania has good crop,” said Randy Soergel, from Soergel Orchards in Wexford.

He says most independent sellers in our area buy their trees from Pennsylvania farms.

“Indiana, Pennsylvania, a has a lot of great Christmas tree growers,” said Soergel. “DuBois area. There’s a lot of growers there. Through the middle part of the state up toward the mountains a little bit, there’s some really good growers.”

However, he says big box stores may get their trees from out of state. But he also says those stores have the power to buy up all the trees from entire farms.

At Soergel’s, the exception to the Western Pennsylvania rule is the Fraser firs. They’re grown in North Carolina, one of the trouble spots. But he says they had no problem getting the trees.

And he says prices are the same as in previous years.

However, they have noticed a trend: “The trend is that people are coming earlier and earlier, so we’ll start the day after Thanksgiving. We’ll start selling trees right away,” said Amy Soergel.

Each year, they see people buying sooner, so they recommend: “To get out early, so they get the selection because the one with the crooked trunk is the one that’s going to be left at the end of the season,” said Soergel.

He says if you do decide to buy your tree early, you don’t have to put it up right away. He says it’s perfectly fine to leave it wrapped up, outside in the cold for a week or two, and it will not dry up.

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