Phomopsis Galls Found On Northern Red Oak

By Linda Williams, DNR forest health specialist, Woodruff;
Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0665

Photo showing large Phomopsis galls on a tree before it has leafed out in the spring.

It is often easier to spot large Phomopsis galls before leaves come out in the spring.

Phomopsis galls are large woody swellings on the branches or main stem caused by a fungus. Across Wisconsin, Phomopsis galls can grow on hickory, especially bitternut hickory. However, in some areas of Wisconsin, they can occur on northern red oak.

Northern red oaks sometimes have hundreds of Phomopsis galls on the branches, ranging from as small as a tennis ball to as large as a basketball. Continue reading “Phomopsis Galls Found On Northern Red Oak”

Slime Mold: Mysterious And Amazing

By Linda Williams, Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff;
Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665

What can learn new things, move toward and acquire food, remember where food was and what foods are preferred, figure out the shortest route through a maze, remember where it has traveled and seem to disappear as quickly as it first appeared?

It’s slime mold, of course!

Continue reading “Slime Mold: Mysterious And Amazing”

Sign Up For Oak Wilt Vector Emergence Emails

By Kyoko Scanlon, Forest Pathologist, Fitchburg;

With the recent warm-up and little snow on the ground in February, you may wonder if the insects responsible for transmitting oak wilt (oak wilt vectors) may emerge earlier this spring.

Though it is impossible to know precisely when they emerge, there is a tool that can be used to help you ease your anxiety a bit.

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Green Light On For Oak Tree Work

Photo of fallen leaves from a red oak that show discoloration, an indication that the tree is infected with oak wilt.

Discolored fallen leaves from a red oak tree indicate that the tree is infected with oak wilt. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

By Art Kabelowsky, DNR Forest Health Outreach and Communications, Fitchburg Service Center;
Arthur.Kabelowsky@wisconsin.gov or 608-335-0167

With the weather taking its time to turn wintry, it’s a good time to remind landowners and work crews that now through the end of March is an ideal time to perform pruning, trimming and brush removal on and near oak trees.

This is a low-risk period for the trees to be infected with oak wilt, a fungal disease spread by beetles. When a red oak is infected with oak wilt, it will die that year. The disease also stresses white oaks, often proving fatal.

Continue reading “Green Light On For Oak Tree Work”

Oak Wilt Confirmed In Ashland County

Map showing Wisconsin counties in which oak wilt has been detected.

With the addition of Ashland County, oak wilt has now been detected in 66 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. / Map Credit: Wisconsin DNR.

By Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Hayward
Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov or 715-416-4920

Oak wilt, a deadly disease of oaks, has been found for the first time in Ashland County.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed the find in wood samples from a red oak tree in the town of Gordon.

“There is always risk of oak wilt spread into new and relatively uninfested areas in northern Wisconsin, such as Ashland County, so it’s always best to practice oak wilt prevention wherever possible to significantly reduce that risk,” said Paul Cigan, a DNR forest health specialist based in Hayward.

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Don’t Let Tree Trouble Hitch A Ride On Firewood

Photo of spongy moth egg masses attached to a piece of firewood

A pair of spongy moth egg masses attached to a piece of firewood. Moving this firewood to another site could put trees at that site at risk in the spring. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

By Art Kabelowsky, DNR Forest Health Outreach/Communications
Arthur.Kabelowsky@wisconsin.gov or 608-335-0167

Are you generally hesitant to give hitchhikers a free ride?

October was National Firewood Awareness Month, and even though November has arrived, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues to urge residents and visitors to follow the same line of thinking when it comes to moving firewood.

That’s because tree-killing hitchhikers often lurk on or in firewood — including spongy moth, emerald ash borer, the fungus that causes oak wilt and other invasive insects and fungi. When untreated, infested firewood is transported away from where the tree died, those pests and fungi can later emerge to attack trees at the new site. This can happen whether that new location is in the next town or hundreds of miles away.

Continue reading “Don’t Let Tree Trouble Hitch A Ride On Firewood”

Oak Mortality Increases In 2023

Photo of a bur oak tree more than 100 years old showing canopy dieback and epicormic branching due to twolined chestnut borer

A bur oak more than 100 years old exhibits canopy dieback and epicormic branching caused by twolined chestnut borer. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

By Michael Hillstrom, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Fitchburg

White, red and bur oaks have been experiencing increased mortality in Wisconsin and neighboring states over the last few years.

The causes of mortality are varied, but two-lined chestnut borer (TLCB) is the most common culprit. Wisconsin has switched from a period of historically wet years (2017-2020) to drought conditions that have become more severe each year (2021-2023). Add in frost damage, storm damage, increased growing season length and aging forests and the environmental recipe exists for stressed oaks that are more susceptible to attack by insects and diseases.

Continue reading “Oak Mortality Increases In 2023”

Balsam Fir Mortality Similar To 2018 And 2020

Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff
Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0665

Photo of balsam fir tree prematurely turning brown and red.

Scattered balsam fir trees in the Northwoods have suddenly turned brown and red this spring. / Photo Credit: Linda Williams, Wisconsin DNR

Scattered balsam fir trees in some areas of northern Wisconsin have suddenly turned rusty red to brown and are dying. These trees are not being impacted by spruce budworm and typically die with a full complement of needles.

The symptoms resemble what was observed in 2018 and 2020. So far, the number of trees being reported is smaller than what was seen in 2018 or 2020. Reports are still coming in, but they seem to be concentrated in northern areas of the state where we had extensive snowfall in late winter.

Continue reading “Balsam Fir Mortality Similar To 2018 And 2020”

Watch For Brown Spot Needle Blight

Photo showing white pine with yellowing needles.

White pine with yellowing needles; new growth is not affected. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR.

By Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff; Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0665

White pine in north central Wisconsin, as well as scattered areas elsewhere in the state, have many needles that are bright yellow. Brown spot needle blight (Lecanosticta acicula, previously known as Mycosphaerella dearnessii) is the primary suspect, although samples have been sent to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Health laboratory to determine if other fungal species are present.

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Heterobasidion Root Disease Approaches

By Alex Feltmeyer, Forest Health Specialist, Plover, Alexandra.Feltmeyer@wisconsin.gov or 715-340-3810

A Heterobasidian root disease fruiting body at the base of a white pine sapling

A Heterobasidion root disease fruiting body is found at the base of a white pine sapling in the understory. Photo: Wisconsin DNR Forest Health

Heterobasidion Root Disease (formerly annosum root rot or Fomes root rot) is a serious disease of conifers that causes reduced height, shoot and diameter growth along with thin and yellowish/red foliage, ultimately causing mortality.

The disease becomes established in a new stand when spores of the fungus land on freshly cut stumps made by any forest management that creates cut stumps. After the disease becomes established, it spreads underground through root systems into adjacent trees. In this way, we often find pockets or groups of trees in various stages of decline.

Movement through the root systems contributes to significant spread throughout stands of conifers, impacting the regeneration of conifers within these pockets.

Mortality usually starts occurring three to eight years after a thinning operation. During this time, perennial fruiting bodies of the fungus begin to develop around the base of cut stumps or dead trees.

Continue reading “Heterobasidion Root Disease Approaches”