Christmas tree shipment is on the way

There is good news for Christmas tree buyers: The evergreen mainland-cut trees will soon be for sale on Kaua’i.

According to a representative of Matson Navigation Co., the first shipment of Christmas trees is expected on Kaua’i early this week. CSX Lines is also bringing trees in and already has a shipment in Honolulu. A larger shipment is expected in Honolulu by Wednesday.

Matson brings in the most Christmas trees each year to Hawai’i, at least 100,000, and its “official Christmas Ship” is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu Nov. 30.

Matson says serious backlogs that could have delayed the tree shipments are being worked on in all its West Coast ports, and the demand for shipments is exceeding the capacity in Hawai’i and Guam. Getting the “frustrated cargo” off the docks is a matter of prioritizing since container yards have been operating at near peak capacity.

CSX Lines is apparently overbooked and there is no space aboard their container ships for more trees until well into December, a little late for Christmas.

“We’ve made provisions to keep space available for the refrigerated containers for the Christmas trees,” said CSX Lines Vice President Brian Taylor. “I don’t see any difference from the CSX perspective…We did about 100 loads of Christmas trees last year and will do about the same this year.”

Most of the Christmas trees shipped into Hawai’i will be cut packed into refrigerated containers and driven down to ports in Seattle or Tacoma, then trans-shipped to Portland for shipment to Honolulu.

Loading the containers onto ships for the Neighbor Islands has a turnaround of about two days. The refrigerated containers are sealed tightly to keep the trees stay fresh and green through the Christmas holiday.

Prices for the trees seem to have stayed in the neighborhood of $50 per tree, and numerous community organizations like the Kapa’a High School Interact Club and the Kapa’a Rotary Club are already selling tickets for a fragrant 6-8 foot Douglas fir tree.

Those who want to get their decorations up prior to Thanksgiving, or don’t want to spend $50 on a tree, might select a locally-grown Norfolk Pine. Norfolk pines don’t shed needled, but lack the wintry scent of a pine forest.

The Kapa’a groups are each selling the contents of one container of Douglas fir trees this year. Each container holds several hundred trees.

Christmas tree buyers should shop early, said Ann Barnes, Kapa’a Rotary Club board member-at-large. Barnes said the pick-up dates for Rotary trees are Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8.

Barnes hopes the trees will get to Kaua’i on time. “I have all the faith in the world,” she said.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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