Firewood

Deer hunters should avoid ash trees when placing deer stands this hunting season

By Bill McNee, forest health specialist, Oshkosh, bill.mcnee@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0942

This November, hunters should avoid placing tree stands in or near ash trees, especially in the southern half of Wisconsin, Door County and the Mississippi River counties. Most ash trees in these areas are dead or dying from infestation by emerald ash borer (EAB) and may unexpectedly snap or drop large branches. Place deer stands in non-ash trees to keep yourself safe from infested ash this hunting season.

Infographic showing four ways to identify ash trees.

A photo guide to identifying ash trees.

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Summary of spring 2020 balsam fir mortality event

Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665

The sudden balsam fir mortality event in Wisconsin in 2020 was similar to the spring 2018 mortality event, although the mortality this year was more scattered, and fewer trees were killed.

A balsam fir tree with a dead crown that has retained its needles.

Trees that died suddenly this spring retained their needles, which turned reddish-brown to brown.

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Fighting invasives together through responsible firewood practices

By Marguerite Rapp, forest health communications specialist, marguerite.rapp@wisconsin.gov, Andrea Diss Torrance, invasive insects program coordinator, andrea.disstorrance@wisconsin.gov, and Tim Allen, DATCP forest pest program coordinator and nursery inspector, timothy.allen@wisconsin.gov, 715-891-8158

This time of year, many Wisconsinites warm up with firewood, whether that’s in a wood stove for the home or a bonfire with family and friends. While firewood is one of the most sustainable heat sources available, the forests that produce it are threatened when firewood infested by invasive species is moved long distances. Fortunately, we can reduce this threat together through responsible use, movement and sale of firewood and wood products.

Man loads firewood into arms from back of truck. Continue reading “Fighting invasives together through responsible firewood practices”

Oak wilt found in Forest Co. and northern townships

By forest health specialists Paul Cigan, Hayward, paul.cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920 and Linda Williams, Woodruff, linda.williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665

Oak wilt has been found for the first time in Forest County and several new northern townships in 2019. These previously undocumented infections were detected using a combination of ground surveys, forester and landowner reports and aerial survey flights. This deadly fungal disease of red oaks has now been confirmed in 65 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.

Updated oak wilt detection map shows new county and township detections described in text.

Oak wilt detection map as of January 1, 2020.

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Protect your trees from disease by pruning when they have no leaves

By Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, Hayward, paul.cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

With the new year upon us, healthy lifestyle habits are sure to be on many people’s minds as they plan for changes in diet and exercise. The new year is also the perfect opportunity to make healthier choices for trees! Winter is the ideal time for tree pruning while avoiding harmful, disease-carrying pests such as the tiny beetles that carry oak wilt from one tree wound to another.

Woman pruning a tree with no leaves on it.

Pruning during winter is less likely to invite unwanted, disease-carrying pests like the beetles that carry oak wilt from one tree to another. Credit: sasapanchenko.

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It’s Firewood Awareness Month: do you know what your options are?

By Andrea Diss-Torrance, invasive forest insects program coordinator, Andrea.DissTorrance@wisconsin.gov, 608-516-2223

Most people know that using locally-sourced firewood helps prevent the spread of invasive pests and diseases. What may be less well known are the processes for finding local sources of firewood or learning where and how you can collect it yourself. During Firewood Awareness Month, we want to share what options are out there so you can take steps to protect the places you love.

Firewood isn't dead - infested firewood can carry insects and diseases to new places

Infested firewood can carry invasive insects and diseases to new places. Buy or gather firewood where you will use it or buy firewood that has been certified as heat-treated and free of pests and diseases. Credit: dontmovefirewood.org.

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Watch for signs of oak wilt

Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665 

Trees in the red oak group (those with points on their leaves) that were infected with the oak wilt fungus this spring will rapidly drop their leaves from July to September and be dead by fall. This wilting and dropping of the green leaves happens quickly. Once it starts, the tree will drop most of its leaves within just a few weeks.

Tree dying from oak wilt with rapidly dropping leaves.

Tree dying from oak wilt with rapidly dropping leaves. The tree was injured in May, attracting the beetles that help spread the fungus, and the tree was dead by the end of the year. Photo was taken in August.

Red oak leaf from infected tree. Leaves are often green at the base, with the outer portions of the leaf appearing water-soaked or brownish.

Red oak leaf from infected tree. Leaves are often green at the base, with the outer portions of the leaf appearing water-soaked or brownish.

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Protect oaks from oak wilt by waiting to prune

By Don Kissinger, urban forester, 715-348-5746, don.kissinger@wisconsin.gov and Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, 715-416-4920, paul.cigan@wisconsin.gov

To protect oak trees from the often-fatal oak wilt disease, don’t prune, cut or injure oak trees from April through July. 

Pruning and cutting oaks in spring and early summer leaves them vulnerable to oak wilt, which rapidly kills trees in the red oak group and weakens those in the white oak group. Any damage during this time, including broken branches caused by storms, exposes living tree tissue beneath the bark and provides an opportunity for the oak wilt fungus to infect the tree.

Sap-feeding beetles introduce the disease by carrying oak wilt spores from infected trees or firewood to fresh wounds. Healthy oaks can become infected in as little as 15 minutes after the creation of a wound. 

Sap-feeding beetle on diseased oak tree in Sawyer County.

Sap-feeding beetle on diseased oak tree in Sawyer County.

The trees most likely to die from oak wilt infection are in the red oak group, including northern pin oak, northern red oak, red oak and black oak. The white oak group is more likely to survive infection and includes bur oak, swamp white oak, white oak and English oak.

Tree paint or wound dressing is not normally recommended on pruned or wounded surfaces, but for damaged oaks an immediate light application of these products may be the only defense against oak wilt infection from April through July.

Pruning in spring can be damaging to any deciduous tree because their energy reserves are low as they produce new buds and leaves following the winter months. In general, the best time to prune is in winter when trees are dormant. 

As of January 31, oak wilt has been found in all Wisconsin counties except 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 will help keep them that way for years to come.

Oak wilt and other diseases move easily on or in firewood logs year-round, so keeping firewood local, or purchasing Wisconsin-certified firewood, is another important component of protecting trees and keeping forests healthy. Visit the DNR firewood page for more information and a directory of certified firewood vendors.

More information, including a recently released oak wilt video, is available at the DNR oak wilt page. Additional information about proper pruning techniques is available from community foresters or through DNR resources such as this tree pruning poster

New northern oak wilt detections

By Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, Hayward. Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov; 715-416-4920 and Linda Williams forest health specialist, Woodruff. Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov; 920-360-0665

Oak wilt (OW) was confirmed for the first time in Bayfield and Douglas counties and in 16 new northern townships in 2018. The new OW infections occurred on a range of properties, including county, tribal, private, U.S. Forest Service and Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forest health staff are working proactively with affected property managers and landowners to address these infections and prioritize disease prevention and detection in the future.

 

Oak wilt distribution map. Confirmed counties are displayed in red. Confirmed townships are displayed in pink 6-mile square blocks.

The greatest risk of overland transmission in northern Wisconsin is from April 15 to July 15, when fungal spores readily infect open wounds. Most of these new cases occurred during this time frame due to stem and branch damage. The primary causes of damage were roadside brush clearing, pruning, lot clearing and storm-caused branch breakage. Fungal spores may have come from diseased oak firewood and unprocessed wood recently transported into these areas.

Image shows a group of oak trees. Northern red oak on far left is in wilting stage of disease (leaves on but wilting and dropping). Oak on far right has mechanical root collar injury. Dairyland Township, Douglas County.

OW disease center. Oak on far left was infected through belowground root contact with tree damaged in lot clearing (far right). Dairyland Township, Douglas County (photo taken by Paul Cigan).

If oak wilt is present in or within 6 miles of the county where you manage oak, your management activities may be affected by seasonal harvesting restrictions to reduce OW introduction and impact. Read DNR’s oak harvesting guidelines for more information and refer to the list below of new 6 square mile blocks by township and county to see if OW has been detected near your property.

Bayfield County
Barnes T45N R9W
Cable T43N R7W
Drummond T45N R8W
Douglas County
Dairyland T43N R15W
Gordon T44N R11W
Langlade County
Elcho T34N R11E
Langlade T33N R13E
Neva T32N R11E
Sawyer County
Couderay T39N R8W
Hayward T41N R8W
Hunter T40N R7W
Round Lake T41N R8W
Spider Lake T42N R7W
Vilas County
Boulder Junction T42N R6E
Lac du Flambeau T41N R5E, T40N R5E
St. Germain T40N R8E

Please report any suspected oak wilt infections to your local DNR forester or regional forest health specialist and learn more about oak wilt identification and biology on the DNR oak wilt webpage. To learn more about firewood rules and how you can help reduce transmission of pests and diseases, including oak wilt, visit the DNR firewood page.

10 oak leaves lain on downed log display bronze discoloration typical of oak wilt. Midrib and base of leaf are still green.

Bronzed leaves fallen from infected oak. Leaves were observed beneath infected northern red oak. Cable Township, Bayfield County (photo taken by Paul Cigan).

ALB: What to watch for in Wisconsin

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

We do NOT have Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in Wisconsin at this time, but it’s good to be on the lookout for it. Every year folks submit reports of insects that they suspect to be ALB, but to date they have always been confirmed as the native whitespotted sawyer (sometimes called pine sawyer), which attacks stressed conifers rather than the maple and other hardwood species preferred by ALB. If you find a beetle that you suspect to be ALB, please collect the beetle, take some pictures, and send them to your forest health specialist, or to the University of Wisconsin Insect Diagnostic Lab for identification.

Asian longhorned beetle is a large beetle. They are smooth and shiny black with white spots and blotches on their wing covers. Photo by Joe Boggs, Ohio State University, bugwood.org

Asian longhorned beetle is a large beetle. They are smooth and shiny black with white spots and blotches on their wing covers. Photo by Joe Boggs, Ohio State University, bugwood.org.

 

Our native pine sawyer beetle appears dusty or pitted, but is often mistaken for Asian longhorned beetle. Photo by Linda Williams.

Our native pine sawyer beetle appears dusty or pitted, but is often mistaken for Asian longhorned beetle. Photo by Linda Williams.

ALB can be a very destructive pest. It is typically introduced, unintentionally, to new areas via wooden pallets, wood packing materials, or firewood. The Don’t Move Firewood website has some great tips for safe transport of firewood, how to find firewood locally, as well as a list of other invasive insects and diseases to be aware of when buying or using firewood.

USDA APHIS, which conducts eradication efforts wherever ALB is found, recently announced that an area of Ohio was officially ALB-free, and the quarantine was subsequently removed. Earlier this year in March, a separate area of Ohio was also declared ALB-free. That leaves just one area of Ohio with ALB quarantines still in effect. Eradication of ALB can take decades to complete and involves extensive efforts including tree removal and chemical treatments. States with current ALB quarantines include: Massachusetts, New York and Ohio.

For more info on ALB, check out the USDA APHIS ALB webpage, and as always, please let us know if you think you have come across a forest health concern, including ALB.