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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Friday will be one of the busiest Christmas tree shopping days of the year with families making the switch from Thanksgiving mode to Christmas mode. 

However, Hoosier families will have fewer options on where they plan to buy a live Christmas tree this year than in previous years. An Indiana University study shows that the number of Christmas tree farms in Indiana has dropped 40-percent since 2002.

Public and Environmental Affairs Professor James Farmer with IU, no pun intended, tells Inside Indiana Business that he expects that decline to continue with more and more people choosing to use artificial trees over live trees.

“It looks like in the next five years or so, about 17 to 18 percent of the growers that we surveyed in Indiana, which represents the majority of Christmas tree operations in the state, will stop planting trees,” Farmer said. 

The decline of Christmas tree farming in Indiana is also moving much faster than a national decline, according to Farmer. When it comes to Christmas trees, Farmer said that according to their most recent survey, consumers are hard to sway to do something different, such as changing from using an artificial tree to a live tree.

He also said artificial trees are more popular among Hoosiers who are more environmentally aware. Farmer said though there is logic in this belief it’s also “negligible” when it comes to what is really more environmentally friendly.

“The research does lean towards artificial trees if they last for more years,” Farmer said. “But, that doesn’t necessarily take into account all aspects such as ecosystem services properties like these provide, the habitat, the watershed protection.”

Farmer added choosing an artificial tree over a live tree based on environmental reasons really isn’t doing as much to help the environment as you might think.

Finally, Farmer said Hoosiers who do want a live tree tend to be drawn to short short-needle varieties like firs and spruces. Unfortunately, these types of trees are harder to grow in Indiana and most often times must be shipped in from places like Pennsylvania or Michigan. 

Make things worse is there is also a Christmas tree shortage this year which means live trees will cost a bit more than normal.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images.CHRISTOF STACHE/Stringer}