Nanaimo faller Al Mieras scaled steep hillsides Tuesday with his chainsaw in hand, trying to fill Christmas tree orders.
“It’s beautiful. Trees are all nice this year. Real nice year for Christmas trees,” said Mieras, who cuts trees annually for Gogo’s Christmas Tree Farm.
Frost had already covered the vast 400 acres of the tree farm Tuesday morning, and the potential for flurries was in the forecast. So, with thousands of trees to be cut, the first holiday rush of the season was on.
“Yeah, it (snow) could happen any day, that’s right,” said Mieras.
“You can’t do it all in the same day, and it’s just a momentous job,” said Mike Gogo, the farm’s owner.
“For a 67-year-old, it’s a lot of work,” said faller Mike McColl.
Fortunately, McColl said nearly every tree he had found was in great shape despite years of record-breaking droughts.
“This year, these are some of the best trees I’ve seen in a long time,” said McColl, who also cuts annually for Gogo’s Christmas Tree Farm.
According to Gogo, the trees being cut for this year’s Christmas festivities are from six years old to eight years old. So he says they had already grown deep roots before the first in a wave of droughts killed off thousands of his new plantings in 2021.
“We planted 20,000 trees…they all died, so I said obviously that didn’t work. But it does now,” said Gogo.
“So now we plant them in the ground, and then we water, water, water.”
Supplies and quality this season are both abundant on Vancouver Island, says Gogo, even as shortages due to drought and higher demand are reported in the U.S.
Yet growers are warning that Christmas trees will cost more this holiday season.
“Oh, definitely, because everything’s up. Gasoline, fertilizer, labour, everything’s up,” said Gogo.
Gogo has raised prices by $5 per tree for the first time in a decade but doesn’t know how much more Christmas tree lots will be charging to cover all of their costs.