Disease

New oak wilt video released by DNR Forest Health Team

By Paul Cigan, DNR forest health specialist (Hayward), Paul.Cigan@Wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

Check out the new oak wilt video on the WI DNR Oak Wilt webpage.

New oak wilt video!

The DNR Forest Health Program just released a new oak wilt video  to educate the public about this deadly fungal disease that kills oak trees. In addition to the 3.5 minute video, a 30 second video trailer is also available:, each video may also be accessed from the Wisconsin DNR’s oak wilt webpage.

The videos, which are hosted on YouTube, may be shared through any networks of professional and public contacts who may benefit from viewing this resource. Please post the video on your organizational websites as an additional information source. Promotion of the videos is underway, including print ads in newspapers in several northern counties, DNR Facebook page posts, and an informational flyer distributed in northern counties. If you are interested in distributing flyers, please contact me or Jodie Ellis at Jodie.Ellis@wisconsin.gov for copies. Contact your regional forest health specialist for more details about prevention, detection, and management of oak wilt.

 

 

New Wisconsin Wildcard available on beech bark disease

Written by: Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff. Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 715-356-5211 x232.

A new Wisconsin Wildcard is available on beech bark disease (BBD).  Wisconsin Wildcards are pocket-sized, collectible informational pieces available at Wisconsin state parks. The BBD Wildcard may be viewed at https://p.widencdn.net/clz4yw/Beech-bark-disease-wildcard and ordered by emailing a request to Forestry.Webmail@wisconsin.gov (ask for publication no. FR-218x).

Beech bark disease will eventually become a problem wherever beech is found.  The native range of American beech (Fagus grandifolia) extends into the eastern third of Wisconsin. BBD is the result of a relationship between exotic scale insects and a Neonectria fungus. The disease was first identified in Wisconsin in 2009. Currently, the only known area of the state which has experienced mortality from BBD is Door County. 

Front and back of the new beech bark disease Wisconsin Wildcard.

Front and back of the new beech bark disease Wisconsin Wildcard.

The scale insects feed by inserting their mouthparts through the bark on the trunk and branches and sucking the sap from the tree. The fungus, which “hitchhikes” on the scale insects’ bodies, enters the tree through those wounds.  The tiny scale insects secrete a white waxy protective covering; when scale populations explode and there are millions of scales on a tree, the tree can appear white from a distance, making it resemble a birch tree. As the fungus enters the tree at numerous points and dead spots under the bark (called cankers) form, the tree becomes weakened, leading to a risk of “beech snap.”  Beech snap can occur unexpectedly when the tree still has a full canopy of leaves remaining.  Beech snap can create huge problems for park and campground managers who are trying to keep guests safe; there is no way to predict when a tree is going to fail from BBD.    

Hundreds of tiny scale insects (covered in white fluff) are present on this small area of beech bark.   

Hundreds of tiny scale insects (covered in white fluff) are present on this small area of beech bark. Photo: Linda Williams

Eventually, the insects and disease take their toll and the beech trees decline and die.  Any age of beech tree can be infested, so in stands with significant beech mortality, regenerating trees will become infested as well as mature ones.  The good news is that three to five percent of American beech trees are resistant to BBD.  Michigan has identified and propagated such trees for a number of years, and have established a seed orchard of resistant trees.  BBD is not yet as established in Wisconsin, but already we’ve been able to identify a couple of resistant trees in the area where BBD has killed many trees. 

For more info on beech bark disease, visit Wisconsin DNR’s webpage on BBD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basswood bark “explosions” caused by Nectria cankers

Written by: Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff. Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 715-356-5211 x232

Many small Nectria cankers are present on this basswood tree.

Many small Nectria cankers are present on this basswood tree. Photo: Linda Williams

Winter is a great time to look for cankers on trees, so I thought I’d highlight one this month that you may have noticed but not recognized.  Most of you probably know Nectria as “the target canker” because growth patterns give the canker face a series of rings, expanding outwards as the canker ages, causing it to resemble a target. But on basswood, the cankers can appear very different at first glance.  On basswood, it may look like there are small “explosions” that occurred under the bark. The bark may be popped out a bit, may have oddly shaped outward growths, and it may or may not be clear that it’s hollow underneath the bark. When you peel away the outer bark and all the gnarly growths, you do end up with a typical Nectria canker face, but on basswood, you often have to dig to get to it. Accompanying photographs show the “bark explosion” appearance that you might notice, as well as what it looks like when you remove the bark.

Nectria cankers are perennial, meaning they grow a little each year. They are made of solid wood (not decayed wood unless another fungus has caused the damage). They typically have staining associated with them; this can cause degrade in lumber value of your final product.  If the cankers occur on small branches they can grow to girdle the branch, but the cankers found under the “bark explosions” on the main stem of basswood trees are not typically going to be able to cause that level of damage, and will instead simply continue to grow for many years.

Although this article focused on Nectria on basswood, the fungus can infect a number of other hardwood species. In those other species, you won’t find the “bark explosions” that you see on basswood, and instead will typically find a target shaped, open-faced canker.

Closer examination of one of the Nectria cankers on the basswood tree shown in the first photo. You can see how the bark appears to be “exploding” from the inside.

Closer examination of one of the Nectria cankers on the basswood tree shown in the first photo. You can see how the bark appears to be “exploding” from the inside. Photo: Linda Williams

Same canker as in the second photograph, starting to peel away the bark covering the canker face.

Same canker as in the second photograph, starting to peel away the bark covering the canker face. Photo: Linda Willliams

After removing the bark covering the canker, you can see the typical target-shaped canker formed by perennial growth of the fungus.

After removing the bark covering the canker, you can see the typical target-shaped canker formed by perennial growth of the fungus. Photo: Linda Williams

Another example of odd bark growth on basswood associated with Nectria canker.  These growths were very thick and solid, but underneath was a small Nectria canker.

Another example of odd bark growth on basswood associated with Nectria canker.  These growths were very thick and solid, but underneath was a small Nectria canker. Photo: Linda Williams

This cross section through a Nectria canker shows the staining that occurs in the tree due to Nectria.

This cross section through a Nectria canker shows the staining that occurs in the tree due to Nectria. Photo: Linda Williams

 

Updated forest health fact sheet – conifer bark beetle

Spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis)

Spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis). Photo: Edward H. Holsten, USDA FS, Bugwood.org

The Division of Forestry’s forest health team recently updated another forest health fact sheet about conifer bark beetles. Like the oak wilt and hickory dieback and mortality fact sheets revised earlier this year, the conifer bark beetle publication offers information about biology, impact, prevention and management of the insects. The conifer bark beetle fact sheet is available on the DNR’s forest health webpage.

Written by: Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Wisconsin Dells. Michael.Hillstrom@Wisconsin.gov; 608-513-7690

Is it SNEED or wet soils and nutrient deficiency?

New needles are green (circled in red), and older needles are yellow (circled in blue) on this spruce. Spruce needles that are yellow, with no visible fruiting bodies on the needles, may be suffering from nutrient deficiency due to the constant wet soils this year, or they may have a disease called SNEED (spruce needle drop). Photo by Linda Williams, WI DNR.

New needles are green (circled in red), and older needles are yellow (circled in blue) on this spruce. Spruce needles that are yellow with no visible fruiting bodies on the needles may be suffering from nutrient deficiency due to constant wet soils this year, or they may have a fungal disease called SNEED (spruce needle drop). Photo by Linda Williams, WI DNR.

In late summer and early fall I had a few calls about younger spruce with yellow needles.  These trees were typically 8-20 years old and were a very yellow color, with new foliage emerging a green color but quickly fading to yellow.  There are two things that came to mind this year.  The first thought is that we’ve had a very wet year.  All year long roots were often in saturated or very moist soil. Consequently. the yellowing could be a sign of nutrient deficiency, specifically nitrogen, due to the saturated soils.  The second possibility is a disease called SNEED (an abbreviation for ‘spruce needle drop’), which I typically see on heavier soils. 

SNEED in spruce is thought to be caused by the fungus Setomalonomma holmii.  Pathogenicity of the fungus has not been proven, but it is the primary fungus present on trees with a particular suite of symptoms.  Spruce with SNEED have current year needles that are a nice green color, but older needles will be yellow or yellow/green in color.  Black fruiting bodies will look like pepper sprinkled generously on the twigs of the affected branches.  Old needles, although not showing any fruiting bodies, will drop from the tree prematurely, and repeated years of this will cause the tree to thin, decline, and can lead to mortality.  I’ve seen this primarily in plantations of white spruce on heavy soils, but have also seen it in blue spruce plantations; it’s reported in Norway spruce as well.  I don’t know of any sure-fire chemical options to prevent infection or to help the trees recover.  Management typically involves removing the most affected trees in the plantation, minimizing stress, and minimizing standing water or waterlogged soils where possible. 

 Written by: Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff. Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov; 715-356-5211, x232.

Of historical interest…

Past reports from the 1992 and 1967 WI DNR Forest Health Annual Reports

25 years ago – 1992

European fruit lecanium (Parthenolecanium corni (Bouche))

Heavy infestations of this scale insect were reported on sugar maple twigs in Vilas and Price counties.

Jack pine budworm (Choristoneura pinus (Rohwer))         

The outbreak in the northwestern counties, which began in 1991, exploded this year (Figure 16). Over 114,000 acres of jack pine were heavily defoliated in Douglas, Bayfield, Washburn and Burnett counties. Egg mass surveys indicate extremely high numbers of jack pine budworm. The area of defoliation may increase in 1993. The present defoliation is not expected to cause significant mortality except in Highland Township, but another year of heavy defoliation in the same stands could cause 10-15 percent mortality. In Highland Township, Douglas County, extremely severe feeding produced significant. mortality and top dieback on several thousand acres of jack pine. Most of these stands are being harvested this winter. Moderate to heavy defoliation also occurred in Jackson, Juneau, Eau Claire, Marinette (1,650 acres), Vilas (2,960 acres) and Oconto counties. In Marinette County, 20 acres of 70-year-old jack pine were cut to release young jack pine and white pine. Jack pine budworm was causing severe top mortality. Evidence of budworm in the northern portion of the Monroe County Forest was observed on 35-40 year old jack pine (Sections 4, 9,16, T19N, R3W). DNR foresters have silvicultural guidelines available to manage budworm-prone jack pine stands.”

Continue reading “Of historical interest…”

Oak wilt detected in Sheboygan County; additional finds in northern WI

Alt text: Oak leaf from the first oak wilt detection site in Sheboygan County, showing bronzing coloration characteristic of oak wilt infection. Photo: William McKnee, WI DNR

Oak leaf from the first oak wilt detection site in Sheboygan County, showing bronzing coloration characteristic of oak wilt infection. Photo: William McKnee, WI DNR

Oak wilt, a deadly fungal disease affecting the red oak group, was recently detected in Sheboygan County for the first time. Wood samples were collected from adjacent symptomatic oak trees on the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit in the Town of Mitchell after the trees were spotted by DNR Forestry staff. The presence of Ceratocystis fagacearum, the fungus causing oak wilt, was confirmed through a DNA test done at the DNR Forest Health Lab and DNA sequencing done at the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center. On-the-ground control options are currently being examined.

Oak wilt is a common disease in the southern two-thirds of the state, but has been

Map of counties where oak wilt has been detected, with the recent Sheboygan County confirmation shown in orange.

Map of counties where oak wilt has been detected, with the recent Sheboygan County confirmation shown in orange.

increasingly found in the northern counties. DNR staff have recently reported first community detections in these northern counties already known to have the disease:

  • Langlade County – Town of Langlade
  • Sawyer County – Town of Edgewater
  • Washburn County – Town of Stone Lake

Oak wilt has been found in all Wisconsin counties except Ashland, Bayfield, Calumet, Door, Douglas, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Taylor.

Additional information about oak wilt can be found at the DNR Forest Health website.

Written by Bill McNee, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Oshkosh.  Bill.McNee@wisconsin.gov; 920-360-0942

 

Oak wilt continues to be found in the north

In this photo two oak trees have died from oak wilt (yellow dots). One tree is currently wilting and dropping its leaves (purple dot).

In this photo two oak trees have died from oak wilt (yellow dots). One tree is currently wilting and dropping its leaves (purple dot).

In August, I reported that we’d found oak wilt in Cloverland Township in Vilas County, in Arbor Vitae Township northeast of Woodruff, (on the southern border of Boulder Junction Township), and along Nabish Lake Road in Boulder Junction and Plum Lake Townships.

So, what’s new since then? Another tree killed by oak wilt was identified on the western side of Plum Lake in Plum Lake Township in Vilas County; another tree died in Washington Township just north of the city of Eagle River. I’m still waiting on results from a suspicious tree in northern Three Lakes Township in Oneida County. In many cases spring storms, which occurred during the high-risk period for overland transmission of oak wilt, were to blame for new oak wilt infections. But in some cases, disease was due to logging or pruning that occurred during the high-risk period for overland transmission of oak wilt. It’s important to know where oak wilt is and to minimize your risk.

For more information, visit the DNR oak wilt web page.

 

Continue reading “Oak wilt continues to be found in the north”

Oak leaves dropping, but it’s not oak wilt!

This oak tree near Pelican Lake dropped leaves due to Cylindrosporium both in 2011 and again this year. This will not cause mortality of the tree.

This oak tree near Pelican Lake dropped leaves due to Cylindrosporium both in 2011 and again this year. This will not cause mortality of the tree.

The small round leaf spots characteristic of infection by Cylindrosporium fungi

The small round leaf spots characteristic of infection by Cylindrosporium fungi.

In September and October, I visited several northern red oaks that were dropping leaves, but none of them looked like they had oak wilt. The dropped leaves were still green but had many perfectly round tan dots on their surface. I collected some leaves and sent them into the lab to verify the causal agent. One of these trees had shown similar symptoms in 2011. At that time, Brian Schwingle (who has since taken his forest health skills to the Minnesota DNR) looked at it and diagnosed Cylindrosporium leaf spot. I suspect the same this year. I’ve found trees of all ages with similar leaf spots in Marinette, Oconto, Oneida, Vilas, and Waupaca counties. Impacted trees often dropped some of the infected leaves, although a lot of green leaves (with additional leaf spots) remained on the tree. These trees should leaf out normally next year.

Written by: Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, (Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov), 715-356-5211 x232.

What is causing hardwood species to appear off-color?

Numerous issues are causing various hardwood species to become off-color this summer.  Below I’ve listed a few issues that I’m seeing.  Most of these issues do not require any control or any mitigation if your trees are showing these symptoms.

Anthracnose causes irregular dead areas on ash leaflets.

 

Anthracnose – irregular dead brown blotches on oak leaves and ash leaflets, caused by the fungal leaf disease anthracnose, is making some oaks and ash appear to be browning.  Phone calls with concerns about dying trees have been coming in.  Symptoms are typically worse in the lower crowns, and the ash I’ve seen with this issue in Marinette, Oconto, and Vilas Counties have very thin looking crowns.

 

Browning areas on this aspen leaf are caused by aspen blotch miner.

Browning areas on this aspen leaf are caused by aspen blotch miner.

Aspen blotch miner – all ages of trembling aspen are being impacted by aspen blotch miner this year.  Aspen crowns appear thin, leaves appear off-color from a distance, “blisters” form on the underside of the leaf, and eventually the leaves curl and brown of the leaves.  This is the 4th year in a row that I’ve noticed defoliation by this insect.  This year, similar to past years, I’ve seen it in Oconto, Marinette, Florence, Forest, Oneida, and Vilas Counties.  Tiny larvae spend their entire life feeding within the leaf and pupate within the area that they mined out.  Moths emerge in August and spend the winter in a protected place.

The winding galleries of aspen leafminer make the tree appear grey from a distance.

The winding galleries of aspen leafminer make the tree appear grey from a distance.

 

 

Aspen leaf miner – for those leaves that aren’t heavily infested with aspen blotchminer, they are often infested with aspen leaf miner.  Aspen leafminer is another tiny larvae that spends its life feeding within the leaf, but they create picturesque winding trails that give the leaves a pale appearance.

 

Balsam poplar browning – a couple of things are going on with the Balsam poplar in Brown and Oconto Counties, including a leaf disease and aspen blotch miner.  The trees are thinnest in the lower crowns, but the upper portions don’t look too hot either.

This birch leaf shows both the feeding of Japanese beetles (which don’t eat the veins of the leaf), and a brown blotch where birch leafminer was feeding.

This birch leaf shows both the feeding of Japanese beetles (which don’t eat the veins of the leaf), and a brown blotch where birch leafminer was feeding.

Birch dropping leaves – every year about this time birch will drop a portion of their leaves.  Many of those leaves don’t appear to have much damage on them.  But there is certainly leaf damage if you look closely at birch.  The primary issue that I’ve been seeing this year in Brown, Oconto, Oneida, Shawano and Vilas Counties is from birch leafminer.  Dead blotches on the leaves may make you think anthracnose, but holding the leaves up to the light you will discover you can see through them and see signs of insect activity inside the leaves.

Birch look brown – defoliation from Japanese beetle in Minocqua/Woodruff area is causing the birch to appear tan.  Defoliation is more significant in the lower canopy, but some trees are heavily defoliated top to bottom.  Japanese beetle is something that you may want to do some treatments for.  There are many options for treatments, whether excluding them with netting, or using insecticides against the adults, using traps for the adults, or using insecticides or fungal biocontrol against the larvae.           UW Extension has a great document with more info on Japanese beetle control.

A young black cherry turns red. While some are being defoliated by lacebugs (causing them to turn red), others like this one have very little defoliation.

A young black cherry turns red. While some are being defoliated by lacebugs (causing them to turn red), others like this one have very little defoliation.

Cherry lacewing and cherry turning red – I’m not quite sure what’s going on with all of the cherry.  Some of them are turning reddish in color because they are being defoliated by Cherry Lacebug (Oconto County), but others don’t seem to have any damage that I see (Marinette and Oconto Counties), so I’m not sure why they’re turning red.

Maple early fall color – check out Todd Lanigan’s article  which highlights the high water levels that are causing stress to lowland trees.  Many maples growing in these lowlands are already turning a rich shade of red due to water stress.

Brown blotches on these oak leaves are not anthracnose. The tiny oak leafminer lives within the leaf, feeding on the leaf material. The damaged area eventually turns brown.

Brown blotches on these oak leaves are not anthracnose. The tiny oak leafminer lives within the leaf, feeding on the leaf material. The damaged area eventually turns brown.

 

Oak leafminer – in Minocqua/Woodruff area I was noticing some oaks were looking a bit brown, which I assumed was probably anthracnose.  Always good to double check these things!  Once I stopped to check it out I discovered activity from oak leafminer was to blame, causing dead brown areas where the insects feed within the leaf.

 

Defoliation by oak skeletonizer will leave a layer of cells, which appear like parchment paper if you hold the leaf up to the light.

Defoliation by oak skeletonizer will leave a layer of cells, which appear like parchment paper if you hold the leaf up to the light.

 

 

 

Oak skeletonizer – scattered light levels of defoliation have been seen in nearly every county in Northeast and East Central Wisconsin.  Oak skeletonizer defoliates oak leaves by scraping off a single layer of the leaf, leaving a parchment-like layer on the leaf which turns pale tan.  Holding these leaves up to the light makes it clear that they’re defoliated.

A willow leaf is brown where willow flea weevil larvae have been feeding inside the leaves.

A willow leaf is brown where willow flea weevil larvae have been feeding inside the leaves.

 

Willow browning – although we started this spring with some willow scab that caused significant defoliation, the current issue is the leafmining action of the larvae of willow flea weevil.  This is the fourth consecutive year that Brown, Calumet, Marinette, Shawano, and Oconto Counties have experienced significant defoliation of willow from this insect.  I’ve also noted this in a few willow in Florence and Langlade Counties this year.

 

Written by: Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, (Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov), 715-356-5211 x232.