2022 Tree & Conifer Shortage Trends in Quebec

2022 Plant Shortage Trends Quebec

Landscape material shortages and supply chain disruptions may turn out to be the lasting legacy of the pandemic. Plant and tree shortages have persisted since 2021 across Canada and most American states. Interestingly, things are changing fast when it comes to the scope and severity of the shortages. Many popular tree and conifer species are getting harder to source in Quebec. What does this mean for the landscaping businesses in the province? Here’s a quick overview of the tree and conifer shortage trends in Quebec and the list of specific species getting harder to find.


The ‘Root Cause’ of the Persistent Tree Shortage

The pandemic may have triggered the plant shortages, however it’s just one of multiple factors that resulted in an ongoing crisis. In fact, the root cause of the shortages may go as far back as the 2008 recession, when many nurseries went out of business, never to re-open. As a result, when the economy recovered in the next decade, wholesale plant material inventory never reached its pre-recession levels. This has led to a ‘base-level’ shortage for many popular species which has been further exacerbated by recent market conditions.

First, the labor shortages in Canada have worsened the situation for many wholesale nurseries. Currently, Canadian farms and wholesale nurseries are short of 63,000 workers as per the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. With fewer farm workers to dig, prepare materials, and to support the growth of new trees, it can be hard for wholesale nurseries to scale up their production.

Secondly, since 2021, the availability of tree whips has drastically reduced due to supply chain hang-ups and labor shortages faced by large whip producers. Since many wholesale growers rely on sourcing tree whips to build their inventory, lower availability of source material is causing a tree and conifer shortage down the supply chain.


Price Spike for Trees and Conifers?

Pricing trends often serve as a real-time indicator of market availability. With a persistent plant material shortage, there has been a significant price spike for popular trees and conifers. The most ordered sizes for conifers in the last two years have seen an increase in their prices ranging between 9% to 25%.

When it comes to the trees, 40mm to 70mm trunk diameter sizes are the most sought after since 2021. Their prices have moderately increased between 10%-15%, across all popular tree species. A notable exception would be Ostrya Virginiana which has seen a 30% spike in their prices for their most popular size of 50mm trunk diameter in 2022.


Which Specific Northern Tree and Conifer Varieties are Harder to Find in 2022 (and How to Replace Them)?

The following list has been created based on proprietary data, and reports from the GoMaterials operations team.

Ostrya Virginiana (Hop Hornbeam)

Urban forests and green city spaces love the Hop Hornbeams for their ‘trouble-free’ attributes. Also known as Ironwood for their highly dense wood, the Hop Hornbeams can tolerate many urban conditions. They grow to a manageable size of 12 meters and their pyramidal shape as well as long slender branches work well in modern landscape designs. Their sunburst yellow color in fall also makes them one of the most in-demand trees of 2022.

Alternatives to Hop Hornbeam: There just aren’t any great substitutes for Hop Hornbeams. You can book your orders sooner or try sourcing with other specs.

Maackia Amurensis (Maackia)

One of the toughest and hardy landscaping trees, Maackia can survive it all – droughts, acidic or alkaline soil, part-shade, or even periodic wet soils. With no species-specific diseases or pests and medium height at maturity, Maackia trees are fast becoming the go-to option for city trees.

Alternatives to Maackia: In case you find it hard to source Maackia in 2022, try replacing it with Syringa Reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’.

Tsuga Canadensis (Eastern Hemlock)

If there’s one word to describe the Canadian Hemlocks, it would be ‘versatile’. Their dense foliage and distinct pyramid shape makes them perfect as a specimen tree. However, they can just as easily be used for privacy screens due to their higher tolerance to shearing. As a native north American tree, their demand has been rising over the years.

Alternatives to Eastern Hemlock: If you’re unable to find the right specs or quality for Hemlocks, Pinus Strobus (Eastern White Pine) is a close alternative.

Picea Abies (Norway Spruce)

An ‘all star’ conifer, the Norway Spruce tends to make every best-selling list, and for the right reasons! These beautiful, giant conifers grow fast, and are always sought after due to their graceful appearance. Generally, they’re available in greater quantities, however 2022 is an exceptional year and the supply isn’t quite matching up with the demand.

Alternatives to Norway Spruce: Picea Pungens (Blue Spruce), Picea Glauca (White Spruce), or Abies Concolor (White Fir) all make for great replacements for the Norway Spruce.

Thuja Green Giant (Green Giant Arbovitae)

The green giants offer a robust defense against any kind of environmental conditions. These impressive conifers can grow a whopping 3 feet per year, making them an ideal privacy screen option. Often recommended as an alternative for Black Cedars or Leyland Cypresses, the Green Giant has now joined the long list of conifers in short supply.

Alternatives to Green Giants: You can swap them with other hedging conifers such as Thuja Smaragd.

Ginkgo Biloba (Ginkgo Tree)

Ginkgos are truly the unicorn of the tree world. Hardy, and pollution resistant once they mature, it’s no wonder that Ginkgos are favored by city arborists, and a must for any urban greening initiative. Unfortunately, their slower growth rate has led to many nurseries opting out of growing these wonderful shade trees.

Alternatives to Ginkgo: There just isn’t a way to replace Ginkgos due to their unique qualities, however you can always try other cultivars or different specs.

Carpinus Betulus Fastigiata (European Hornbeam)

Whether it’s a commercial or residential landscaping job, the European Hornbeams are fast becoming a go-to option in the North. Their upright form, and grey bark combined with the yellow tint for leaves in the Fall makes them a favourite of many landscape designers.

Alternatives to European Hornbeam: You can swap the European Hornbeams with Liriodendron Tulipifera Slender Silhouette (Tulip Tree) or Quercus Robur ‘Fastigiata’ (Upright English Oak).


Are you currently facing challenges in sourcing trees or conifers, anywhere across Quebec? We can help! Send in your requirement list today to get an estimate!

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