Reports of a shortage of mistletoe, a parasitic plant that grows on trees and shrubs, may have been overblown.
Good news for Christmas lovebirds: The mistletoe is well-stocked this year.
Reports of a shortage of mistletoe, a parasitic plant that grows on trees and shrubs, may have been overblown. These reports began two years ago when severe drought devastated the crop at Tiemann's Mistletoe, a major grower in Priddy, Texas.
"It just looked like crap—half-dead and didn't look good," said Robert Tiemann, co-owner. "Since it's a wild harvested plant, there's really nothing you can do to help it along."
Due to the drought, Tiemann halted production at his family's business, which has been in operation since the mid-1950s. Tiemann said the available crop at the time wasn't good enough "to do a commercial business."
While he would not give exact sales figures, Tiemann said, "I've always said that if you bought mistletoe from a store, it probably came from us."
Although Tiemann's closure generated widespread worry about the crop, Brion Domman, owner of Texas-based MistletoeUS, insists he saw "very little drought impact," which he estimates affected about 1 percent to 2 percent of the crop. Mistletoe harvesters in Oregon and Southern California also said their crop fared fine during this time.
"There's always been a lot of mistletoe," Domman said. "It was just all misleading information out there, which hurt all of us because people stopped looking for it."
Sellers say this year's crop has been good in Texas, Oregon and Southern California. Tiemann also said the crop looks better but he plans to sit this year's selling season out again, saying the crop turned a corner too late for him to ramp up production.
Sales jump after seller bows out
During the past two years, Ryan Saunders, Mistletoe.com's owner, said his Oregon-based company hasn't experienced any issues with the crop.
"We've had double-digit growth every year," Saunders said. "This is the first year we haven't, primarily due to the shorter selling season."
In the years since Tiemann's halted harvesting, his rivals said they've gained shares of its business.
Domman estimates MistletoeUS will sell about 77,000 pounds, up from about 60,000 pounds last year and around 50,000 in 2011.
In both 2011 and 2012, Saunders said he saw an uptick in business due to the Texas drought.
Meanwhile, Jeff Zamora, an owner at Smile Park Mistletoe, which gets the plant in Oregon and Southern California, said his business has seen "a migration of customers who used to buy from Texas shifting to our region."
Plentiful and abundant
Retail sellers also report the plant's supply is in good shape.
Desiree Heimann, a marketing manager at Georgia-based Pike Nurseries, said her company hasn't had any trouble finding mistletoe to sell although it's not planning to carry it in every location.
"Kind of like any Christmas product, it ebbs and flows," Heimann said about mistletoe demand. "Certain communities like it more than others."
At Ten Pennies Florist and Decorators in Philadelphia, owner Ann Catania said supply is plentiful and more inexpensive than in years past.
"It wasn't the most beautiful crop in those years," Catania said about 2012 and 2011. "They were difficult to get, and they became more costly, and people weren't asking for them as much."
While Saunders said he doesn't expect a shortage this year, individual shops may not carry it if they're unaware of distributors who are harvesting it this year.
—By CNBC's Katie Little. Follow her on Twitter @KatieLittle
Still need a Christmas tree? Don't wait
Here is how much people think Santa should earn
10 apps to guide your holiday shopping crunch time
First published December 17 2013, 6:40 AM