Industry-Wide Tree Shortages Continue in Fall 2015

Posted on: July 23, 2015

The shortages in the tree market that have plagued our industry are not over yet.  Our customers can expect to see a lack of material particularly in smaller sized (2.0-3.5”) at least through spring of 2016.  Inventory continues to be very tight on these sizes in response to the recession years of 2008-2010. During those years, many nurseries (Ruppert Nurseries included), cut back on the number of trees lined out as a cost saving measure.  Many nurseries planted no new trees during those years.

We typically figure that it takes 4 years to bring a tree to market; shortages have been part of our lives since 2012 and while the economy has rebounded and many nurseries have the good fortune to be busy, we are still struggling to meet the demand for plant material.  We are finding that many varieties which seemed to have fallen out of favor and had become increasingly difficult to move are once again selling as in many cases, customers are hungry for trees of any species or variety to fulfill their contracts.

In years past, we have been able to generate specials lists to help move material for which we had too much inventory.  We find ourselves hard pressed to put much of anything on special at this time.  It seems that as soon as material is large enough to be saleable by our standards that it sells almost before the ink is dry on the inventory!

Items in particular short supply with no real end in sight are Green Giant Arborvitae, October Glory and Red Sunset Maples, Oaks of all species and Zelkova.

So, what can you do to combat these shortages?  Being able to be flexible with your species is the key to success during this challenging time.  Often times, we can find a suitable substitution with a different species that may have a similar habit, bloom time or size.  Another option is to use a combination of different sizes or in many cases go with a larger tree. This can of course impact labor figures but sometimes clients are willing to pay for a larger tree and sometimes we are able to provide a discount on larger trees in quantity.

Finally, the best way to be sure you get the material you need for your projects is to know what you need in advance and pre-book your orders.  In years past, pre-booking was a popular way to secure material. Pre-booking seemed to fall by the wayside when material was plentiful.  With a PO and small deposit, to secure the order, we can reserve material for future projects.

With autumn right around the corner, it’s not too early to start thinking about your fall orders. We hope to see many of you at Ruppert Nurseries soon and look forward to a busy fall!