Getting enough trucks during harvest season has always been a challenge for Oregon Christmas tree growers like Holiday Tree Farms in Corvallis. “Producers have such a short window to move lots of trees,” said Holiday production manager Mark Arkills, who sells wholesale, mostly to big box stores in California. “And we are all competing for the same trucks.”
Oregon grows about 6 million Christmas trees each year; more than any other state in the U.S. About 90% are shipped out of state, to California, Mexico, Canada, Texas — “pretty much everywhere west of the Mississippi,” said Casey Grogan, president of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association.
Every year, the country’s appetite for Oregon-grown Noble- and Douglas fir trees puts a strain on shipping capacity. Normally there’s a low demand for trucks in the Pacific Northwest — not in November and December, though. Trucking rates are up 30% since October.
Other factors are contributing to the fall capacity crunch in the Pacific NW, said Andrew Silver, CEO of MoLo Solutions. The Christmas tree harvest coincides with peak season for potatoes, onions, and other produce, he said in an email. The combination “results in rate increases out of that market.”
“Typically, refrigerated rates out of the Pacific NW start to rise as early as September, and increase through the end of the year,” Silver said.
Arkills said the new E-log rules mean growers have had to be more flexible in delivery appointments. “Often time you get a truck loaded only to discover they are out of hours and won’t be able to get to the store when scheduled,” he said.
The Pacific NW is one of the two most challenging markets to secure capacity right now, Silver said. (California is the second.) “That should persist through the end of the year.”
Read the full article from FreightWaves here.