America’s Christmas tree growers don’t want the public to get in a panic and they certainly don’t want them to buy a fake Christmas tree–but they do want people to buy their tree early this year.

The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) told CBN News that it’s a “tight market” this year for fresh Christmas trees.

The reason? Ten years ago during the Great Recession, growers cut back on the number of trees they planted. Now, demand is back up and the supply is limited.

NCTA spokesman Doug Hundley told CBN News, “We are really confident that everyone looking for a real tree will be able to find one,” but added he wouldn’t wait until the end of December. At that point he said, “you may not have the selection you’re used to.”

The country’s 4,000 Christmas tree growers spend about ten years raising the firs and pines that fresh tree fans love. With the lengthy growing period, they’re unable to quickly produce more inventory when demand goes up. That’s why this year’s supply is especially limited, coming ten years after the Great Recession.

Last year, the $2 billion fresh tree market sold about 27 million trees compared to the 1.86 billion artificial tree market which sold 18.6 million trees.

According to a Nielsen study commissioned by the association, Americans spent an average of $74.70 on fresh trees last year and an average of $98.70 on artificial trees.

Fresh tree prices tend to vary by region, however, with Californians paying as much as $76 for a tree and North Dakotans getting a steal with trees selling for $27.

Fresh tree buyers tend to buy “pre-cut” trees from big chain stores, retail lots and garden centers. About one-quarter buy “cut my own” from tree farms.

Hundley says that Frasier Firs are the most popular trees on the East Coast and out West, Noble Firs are in high demand.

Oregon and North Carolina are the top tree-producing states.

Not surprisingly, the tree growers have strong views about what kind of tree you should buy. “There’s no comparison to a real tree,” Hundley said, “it’s not Christmas to have a piece of plastic up.”