From bicycles to office supplies, the COVID-19 pandemic has led people back to a simpler way of living or made them adjust to something new altogether.
With more time spent at home, families are choosing to invest in their homes and for many that means investing in their gardens. But just like bikes and desk chairs, fruit trees have become just as hard to find.
For many retailers, there has been a shortage in vegetable seeds, but Donna Lowey, co-owner of Lowey’s Greenhouse and Market Garden, learned from last year and ordered in bulk. But now she faces another problem.
“There is actually another problem with finding established fruits,” Lowey said. “They’re very high demand right now and they’re getting to be harder to find. I found that last year too. I had gotten myself into some trouble where I had taken orders and in a typical year. You just never have those kinds of problems, where there’s no apple trees available. That’s just not heard of.”
Plum and cherry trees as well as raspberry and blueberry shrubs can be difficult to get, but none are as few and far between as the hardy apple trees, Lowey said, adding, that if you thought of getting an apple tree this year, you may have to wait until next summer.
Lowey said the shortage is likely due to high demand, but supply cannot keep up because many things are also on backorder.
Lowey is not the only greenhouse facing this problem. Joanna Loewen, owner of Loewen Greenhouse and Landscaping, said the fruit trees she ordered have been selling ‘like crazy’ and her supplier said he has zero fruit trees left.
Loewen said apple trees are the most common but they also have cherry trees and plum trees that are high in demand, so high that she will likely not be getting another apple tree shipment this year.
“I think especially with last year and this year, people are just that much more interested in growing their own [produce],” Loewen said. “People are finding having their own fruit and their own apples much more fulfilling than buying it off of the store shelf.”
As things start to get back to normal in the COVID realm, Loewen said they should have more fruit trees next year, but that ordering ahead almost does not help, because so many things are on back order.
Lowey said she was caught off guard because they have never run into a grower sold out of apple trees. She added that sometime the nurseries will sell out of cherry trees or something that is not so common but there is usually an abundance of apple trees because they are so popular.
Lowey said they do not know when they will get another shipment, they just have to wait until their supplier tells them there is more.
“I do have a couple different varieties of apple trees coming in. Normally we would have several different types, but I think right now I’m only getting two coming in,” Lowey said.
Lowey said she thinks the supply and demand will eventually catch up, but until then, she’s asking everyone to be patient.