herald

Saturday 7 December 2019

Wet weather adds to costs for growers of Christmas trees

Tree grower Christy Kavanagh
Tree grower Christy Kavanagh

The wet weather has added extra costs to Christmas tree growers nationwide.

Heavy rain has heaped additional time pressure in what is usually a very busy week in the run-up to December.

Christy Kavanagh, of the Irish Christmas Tree Growers, said all of this week they will be, "under time pressure to get the trees ready and out on the market for the start of the busy festive period which starts in earnest for us next week".

"The wet weather has added extra costs both in terms of time and labour, trying to ensure the trees are cut in time and kept clean. This is normally a tense week, anyway, but the weather hasn't done us any favours.

"Growers around the country are easily working 18 to 19 hours a day this week to catch up on time lost to the inclement weather.

"But the added costs on us, as a result, will not be passed on to the consumer," Mr Kavanagh added. Remnants of Tropical Storm Sebastien have been battering many parts of Ireland for the past couple of days, bringing with it heavy rain and strong winds.

Weather concerns have added to a year of worry for growers, due to the uncertainty of Brexit.

"Thank goodness Brexit didn't happen this year as all the uncertainty would have caused turmoil for us in terms of dealing with paying VAT up front, customs, plant passports etc.

"It has already cost growers a lot of money and so, so much hassle in terms of taking related courses, getting computer systems organised, paperwork and the list goes on and on.

"If there is an uncertain exit then costs will rise on the trees next year and that's a certainty," Mr Kavanagh said.

Close to 450,000 trees are expected to be sold throughout Ireland this year with at least a further 200,000 being exported to European markets.

It can take between seven to 10 years before an Irish-grown Christmas tree is in peak condition and ready for harvesting.

Recycle

Ireland's climate provides the ideal conditions for growing top-quality Christmas trees, the non-shed Nordmann and Noble Fir are by far the most popular.

The average price of a tree - dependent on size - is between €35 and €65.

At the end of the festive season the public are being advised to recycle their trees.

These trees are then shredded into chippings - which are used locally in parks or woodland areas.

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