Urban Forestry News

Figure out when your trees will bloom

The Morton Arboretum is releasing information monthly on growing degree days. Plants, insects and fungi all develop at various times depending on temperature. Development will speed up or slow down depending on the rise and fall of temperature. Several studies have worked to understand the relationship between heat and development. These studies and information from them help anticipate flowering of trees and shrubs and the emergence of insects based on how many growing days have accumulated. Continue reading “Figure out when your trees will bloom”

EAB biocontrol releases continue in 2018

By Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist (Fitchburg). Michael.Hillstron@wisconsin.gov; 608-513-7690

In 2018, the Wisconsin DNR will complete its eighth year of releasing tiny, stingless wasps as biocontrol agents to help manage emerald ash borer. Columbia, Dane and Grant counties are slated for first-time releases this year, and there will be new release sites in Brown, Door and Sheboygan counties. The wasps will be released for a second year at established sites in Brown, Green, Jefferson, Milwaukee and Sheboygan counties. The same wasps that were released in 2017 will be used this year: Tetra sticus planipennisi, Spathius galinae and Oobius agrili.

Tiny adult Spathius galinae wasps are released near an infested ash tree where they will look for EAB larvae to parasitize

Adult Spathius galinae wasps venture out to find some tasty EAB larvae to parasitize.

 

Map showing the numerous biocontrol sites for emerald ash borer established in southern and eastern Wisconsin since 2011.

Biological control sites for emerald ash borer in Wisconsin 2011-2018. Figure by Bill McNee.

Phomopsis galls

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist (Woodruff). Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov; 715-356-5211, x232

Large swellings on the branches of this oak are caused by the fungus Phomopsis.

Large swellings on the branches of this oak are caused by the fungus Phomopsis.

Winter and early spring are great times to look for galls on trees. Some galls, including phomopsis galls, can get very large and, because there are often many galls on a single tree, they are easily spotted from a distance. Phomopsis galls are woody swellings caused by a fungus which range in size from very small to larger than a person’s head. They occur on hickory, northern red oak, maple, and a few other tree species. Infections are usually localized to a single tree with neighboring trees being completely unaffected, or a small group of trees may be infected. Occasionally, larger infection centers can be found.

It is suspected that genetic variability plays a role in the susceptibility of individual trees, but a lot is still unknown about this fungus. There is no known treatment for Phompsis galls other than to prune them out and dispose of them; many people choose to simply live with them. If left on a tree, galls may eventually cause dieback or girdling of infested branches, but some trees live for many decades with galls on their main stems. The presence of galls does not necessarily mean the rapid death of a tree, which is especially true for oak trees: they seem to survive for decades with very large galls present on the branches.

Forest health zones restructured

by Jodie Ellis, communications specialist, Forest Health team (Madison)
Jodie.Ellis@Wisconsin.gov; 608-266-2172

The number of Forest Health (FH) specialist positions in the state was recently reduced by one, going from seven fulltime positions to six. To reflect this change, the forest health zonal map was restructured to spread coverage between five forest health specialists (the FH specialist position for the Central zone, while not eliminated, remains vacant). The new assignments went into effect on April 3, 2018.

To contact a forest health specialist, please refer to the revised map below:

  • Northwest zone: Paul Cigan (Hayward), 715-416-4920, paul.cigan@wisconsin.gov
  • Northeast zone: Linda Williams (Woodruff), 715-356-5211 x232, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov. Also covering Lincoln, Shawano, Menominee, Waupaca and Oconto counties in the Central zone
  • West Central zone: Todd Lanigan (Eau Claire), 715-839-1632, todd.lanigan@wisconsin.gov. Also covering Taylor County in the Central zone.
  • Southeast zone: Bill McNee (Oshkosh), 920-360-0942, bill.mcnee@wisconsin.gov
  • South Central zone: Michael Hillstrom (Fitchburg, WI), 608-513-7690, michael.hillstrom@wisconsin.gov. Also covering Marathon, Wood, Portage, Adams, Waushara, Marquette and Green Lake counties in the Central zone.
  • Central zone: vacant
Restructured Forest Health zones

Restructured Forest Health zones

A fulltime FH specialist position, which had been vacant, was eliminated as part of the reduction of six positions from the Division of Forestry in the recent state budget. Because of the increased work load on the five remaining FH specialists, the FH program has permanently reduced or eliminated some of its services to customers to keep the staff’s work load at manageable levels.

Program services that have been reduced or eliminated include:

  • The DNR’s gypsy moth suppression program, which addressed population surges in areas of the state where gypsy moth is already established. This program was already in the process of being deactivated when the FH specialist position was cut. (NOTE: The Slow The Spread program, which is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), remains active. It targets gypsy moth populations in the western part of the state where gypsy moth has not yet established.)
  • Site visits to confirm EAB at the township level (digital images will be used for identification instead)
  • Site visits and digital diagnostics of small acreage (less than 10 acres) for private landowners

Forest Health team members must also reduce the number of outreach presentations provided to the public.

Please contact Rebecca Gray, Forest Health team leader, with any questions at Rebecca.Gray@wisconsin.gov or by phone at 608-275-3273.

How are communities handling EAB across Wisconsin?

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has recently issued a statewide quarantine for emerald ash borer (EAB), regulating the pest in Wisconsin. Since the menace has already affected 48 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, many municipalities have been acting on EAB management plans they set into place, including the City of Racine and Ozaukee county have been managing the pest.

Continue reading “How are communities handling EAB across Wisconsin?”

Protect oak trees from oak wilt by waiting until after July to prune

By Don Kissinger, DNR urban forester (Wausau), Don.Kissinger@wisconsin.gov, 715-359-5793 and Paul Cigan, DNR forest health specialist (Hayward), Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

To protect oak trees and help prevent oak wilt, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources advises people to avoid pruning oaks on their property from April through July.

Spring and early summer pruning makes oak trees vulnerable to oak wilt, a fatal fungal disease that rapidly kills trees in the red oak group and weakens those in the white oak group. Any tree damage during this time creates an opening that exposes live tree tissue and provides an opportunity for the oak wilt fungus to infect the tree.

The red oak group includes northern pin oak, northern red oak, red oak and black oak; the white oak group includes bur oak, swamp white oak, white oak and English oak.

Pin oak (Quercus palustris)

Pin oak (Quercus palustris)
Photo: Gary Fewless, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

“It takes only a few minutes for beetles that carry oak wilt spores to land on a fresh wound and infect your tree,” said Paul Cigan, DNR forest health specialist in Hayward.

Property owners with oak trees are encouraged to check with their municipality to find out if there are local oak wilt ordinances which may have different pruning restrictions.

The use of tree paint or a wound dressing is not normally recommended on pruning cuts or wounded surfaces on most trees. But for damaged oaks, the use of such products are suggested from April through July. An immediate light painting of wounds or cuts on oak trees during this time helps protect against the spread of oak wilt by beetles.

Don Kissinger, a DNR urban forester in Wausau, said there are also other important reasons to avoid pruning many kinds of deciduous trees in spring beyond concerns about oak wilt.

“Spring is the time when tree buds and leaves are growing, leaving the tree’s food reserves low,” Kissinger said. In general, the best time to prune trees is in winter.

Oak wilt and other diseases move easily on or in firewood logs year-round. To protect trees in general, don’t move firewood long distances, or only use firewood labeled as Wisconsin-certified.

As of January 31, 2018, oak wilt has been found in all Wisconsin counties except Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Forest, Taylor, Door, Kewaunee, Calumet, and Manitowoc counties. Several of these counties contain the highest abundance of healthy and productive oak forests in the state. Taking recommended precautions with living oak trees and keeping firewood local to prevent the spread of oak wilt will help keep them that way for years to come.

More information is available online at the WI DNR website, including a recently released video on oak wilt. Visit the DNR website, https://dnr.wi.gov/, and search for “oak wilt” or “firewood.” Additional information about proper pruning techniques is available from community foresters or by searching for “tree pruning.”

Statewide quarantine for emerald ash borer

By Jodie Ellis, DNR Forest Health Team, communications specialist (Madison), Jodie.Ellis@wisconsin.gov, 608-266-2172

An adult emerald ash borer.

An adult emerald ash borer.
Photo: Leah Bauer, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Bugwood.org

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) enacted a statewide quarantine for the invasive insect emerald ash borer  (EAB) on March 30, 2018. Previously, individual counties were quarantined when EAB was confirmed within each’s borders. Since EAB has been found in 48 of 72 Wisconsin counties, DATCP officials have determined that statewide regulation of the devastating ash tree pest is warranted.

Movement of ash wood, untreated ash products and hardwood firewood of any type to areas outside of Wisconsin will continue to be regulated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine. (APHIS PPQ). 

Within the state, Wisconsin businesses and members of the public will be able to freely move ash wood, ash products, and hardwood firewood to or from any Wisconsin county. Firewood restrictions will remain in effect on state and federal lands.

Items affected by the statewide EAB quarantine include ash wood with bark attached, larger ash wood chips, and hardwood firewood of any kind. County-by-county quarantines for gypsy moth, another invasive forest pest, remain in effect.  

The move to a statewide quarantine does not mean that the state has given up on managing EAB; it is simply a shift in strategy as EAB continues its slow spread through the state. The Wisconsin DNR will continue releasing tiny, stingless wasps -natural enemies of EAB – at appropriate sites, which it has done since 2011. The DNR also continues participation in silvicultural trials in which different ash management strategies are being tested.

Most importantly, campers, tourists, and other members of the public are strongly encouraged to continue taking care when moving firewood within the state. “The actions taken by the Wisconsin public during the last few years have significantly slowed the spread of emerald ash borer and other invasive forest pests in the state,” said Wisconsin DNR EAB program manager Andrea Diss-Torrance. “We can continue to protect the numerous areas within our state that are not yet infested – including those in our own backyards – from tree-killing pests and diseases by following precautions.” Public members should continue to obtain firewood near campgrounds or cabins where they intend to burn it, or buy firewood that bears the DATCP-certified mark, meaning it has been properly seasoned or heat-treated to kill pests.

Emerald ash borer is native to China and probably entered the United States on packing material, showing up first in Michigan in 2002. It was first found in eastern Wisconsin in 2008.

For further information on EAB in Wisconsin, visit https://dnr.wi.gov/ using key words “emerald ash borer.”