Looking for a natural Christmas tree? Call ahead as demand is high

As daylight becomes more scarce, and stay at home instructions continue, many are getting their holiday decorations up early and natural Christmas trees are in demand earlier than usual.

Some sellers are already running out of stock.

Near the shores of Lake Massawippi in the Eastern Townships south of Montreal, the hills are home to the Downey family tree farm, which started selling trees in 1967.

"I think I was 12 years old when I was driving tractors and now my son is helping me," said Sapiniere & Pepiniere Downey owner Larry Downey. "My son is a McGill graduate and a certified agronomist and he's helping me grow better trees."

The family says the trees are in high demand this year with the first call for firs coming on Halloween.

Downey said the Balsam firs make better Christmas trees because they keep their needles longer.

"As you can see the needles are more flat and round and have a bluish colour to it," he said.

The farm sells around 25,000 trees a year through it's "choose and cut" option or when they ship the trees to sellers in the US.

"Most of the tree wholesalers in Quebec in Estrie are sold to the United States," said Downey. "We're close to the market and the American dollar is good and the Americans are even more desperate for trees than us Canadians. There's less supply in the United States and it's a very big market."

Each tree cut down is replaced by a seedling in the spring with trees taking 10 years to reach maturity.

"I'm a third generation Christmas tree farmer so sustainability is something to make sure that my son and the next generation can have a farm that is still sustainable," said Downey. 

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