Southeast WI Forest Health

Oak Wilt Vectors Emergence User Interface Now Available

By Kyoko Scanlon, Forest Pathologist, Kyoko.Scanlon@wisconsin.gov or 608-235-7532 and Elly Voigt, Forest Health Communications Specialist and Lab Technician, Eleanor.Voigt@wisconsin.gov

Oak wilt is a serious disease of oaks that spreads to new areas when insects carrying oak wilt fungal spores land on a fresh wound of a healthy oak tree. To prevent oak wilt infections, it is important to avoid pruning, wounding and harvesting of oaks when these insects are abundant.

Predicting when these insects emerge in spring can be difficult as their emergence is highly weather-dependent and spring weather varies significantly year to year. The good news is that a new online interface is now available to provide users with localized information about the emergence status of the two most important insects that transmit oak wilt in Wisconsin. Because the interface uses a degree-day model constructed from insect trapping data and actual weather data, it is useful to refine the beginning of the periods when pruning, wounding and harvesting of oaks should be avoided.

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Revised Factsheets, Guidelines Now Available

By Elly Voigt, DNR Forest Health Lab Technician and Communications Specialist, Eleanor.Voigt@wisconsin.gov

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has just released several updated publications, including the annual update of the Heterobasidion root disease and oak wilt factsheets and guidelines. Updated versions can be found on the DNR’s forest health webpage by clicking the links below:

     – Heterobasidion root disease factsheet
     – Heterobasidion root disease guidelines
     – Oak wilt factsheet
     – Oak harvesting guidelines

Minor revisions were also made to the environmental cause of tree damage and conifer bark beetle factsheets. Visit the DNR webpage here for other forest health publications.

For more information on forest health, visit the DNR webpage, or talk to your regional Forest Health Specialist.

Wisconsin DNR 2020 Forest Health Annual Report

By Elly Voigt, DNR Forest Lab Technician and Communications Specialist, Eleanor.Voigt@wisconsin.gov

The cover page of the 2020 Annual ReportThe Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Health team recently completed the 2020 Forest Health Annual Report. The report summarizes impacts from pests, diseases and weather on the health of Wisconsin’s forests. Highlights from 2020 include:

• An update on emerald ash borer in Wisconsin, including newly confirmed counties
• New township detections of oak wilt
• Flooding and tornado damage
• Summary of state nursery studies

For access to the report, visit the link here.

Learn More About Rime Ice And Winter Tree Damage

By Mike Hillstrom, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Fitchburg, Michael.Hillstrom@wisconsin.gov or 608-513-7690 and Brian Wahl, DNR Forestry Specialist, Fitchburg, Brian.Wahl@wisconsin.gov or 608-225-7943

During Wisconsin’s first week of 2021, a beautiful weather phenomenon occurred: rime ice. Rime ice forms when the tiny water droplets in fog freeze on trees and other objects. Hoarfrost, a similar phenomenon that occurs without fog, can form when water vapor in freezing air contacts a surface. The best news is that these winter conditions should not concern tree health when we emerge from the winter fog in spring.

A close-up photo showing rime ice on crabapple branches

Rime ice on a crabapple tree.

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How to look for white pine bast scale and Caliciopsis canker

By Elly Voigt, DNR Forest Health Communications Specialist and Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665

The association between a tiny insect and an inconspicuous fungus is causing branch and sapling mortality. White pine bast scale (WPBS; Matsucoccus macrocicatrices) and Caliciopsis canker (caused by Caliciopsis spp.) are agents in an insect/disease complex impacting white pines (Figure 1).

A white pine tree showing branch dieback in the mid and lower crown.

Figure 1. Branch mortality caused by WPBS and Caliciopsis canker.

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Phomopsis galls

By Elly Voigt, DNR Forest Health Lab Technician and Communications Specialist, Eleanor.Voigt@wisconsin.gov

Galls are woody swellings on the branches or trunk of a tree and can be caused by insects or fungi. Winter and early spring are the best times to notice galls thanks to bare branches. One type of gall, caused by Phomopsis fungi, occurs on northern red oak, hickory, maple and several other tree species.

Numerous woody galls on the branches of an oak tree.

Phomopsis galls on the branches of an oak.

There will frequently be many phomopsis galls on one tree while nearby trees are completely unaffected, probably due to individual resistance differences. While small phomopsis galls have minimal effects on trees, larger galls can girdle branches, causing branch dieback. Galls grow very slowly, and many heavily affected trees survive for decades, even with a large gall on their trunk.

There are currently no treatment recommendations for Phomopsis galls, but you can prune and dispose of affected branches. Many landowners choose to let them be.

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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Tree mortality continues in flooded forests

Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Fitchburg, Michael.Hillstrom@wisconsin.gov, 608-513-7690

Wisconsin has had historically wet weather the last five years, and the impacts to trees are escalating. Forest health staff have noted significant mortality of trees along lakes and rivers from rising water levels. Trees growing in low areas that have not flooded in many years are also being impacted.

Photo of flooded lakeside forest and dead trees around margin of lake.

Rising lake water levels causing conifer mortality.

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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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New emerald ash borer county detections: an update from DATCP and DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), in partnership with the Wisconsin DNR, has detected emerald ash borer in four new counties (Dunn, Oconto, Pepin and Shawano). Please read this DATCP article for more information.

Adult emerald ash borer beetle.

Adult emerald ash borer beetle.

If you are a landowner and have questions about ash trees in your woodlot, contact your local DNR forester using the Forestry Assistance Locator.