Monday, October 16, 2017

Ash Trees on the Brink?

Ash infested with Emerald Ash Borer
Interesting article, see below.  I'm not convinced we are ready to ask if ash trees are going to go extinct......even with the loss of millions of mature trees.  The woods are loaded with ash seedlings and saplings.  I think a bigger question is what will happen to those trees when they get large enough to be infested with the beetle, which they say is when a tree reaches only 2 inches in diameter.  Will enough beetles still be around to infest this next generation of ash or will the population have crashed?  Only time will tell.  If we can get enough to reach seed bearing age we may be able to keep producing a new generation of ash trees.  She does make a very good point in that ash may become "functionally extinct" which means the population of ash that remains may be too small to play a significant role in the environment.  That certainly may be the case.

Ash tree on brink of extinction in Northeast US

Emerald Ash Borer larva
Five prominent species of ash tree in the eastern US have been driven to the brink of extinction from years of lethal attack by a beetle, a scientific group says. Tens of millions of trees in the US and Canada have already succumbed, and the toll may eventually reach more than 8 billion, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said Thursday.

Ash trees are a major part of eastern forests and urban streets, providing yellow and purplish leaves to the bounty of fall colors. Their timber is used for making furniture and sports equipment like baseball bats and hockey sticks.

The rampage of the emerald ash borer is traced to the late 1990s, when it arrived from Asia in wood used in shipping pallets that showed up in Michigan. Asian trees have evolved defenses against the insect, but the new North American home presented it with vulnerable trees and no natural predators.

“The populations are exploding,” said Murphy Westwood of the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. Infestations have been detected in 30 states. “It’s a very efficient killer,” Westwood said. “As the ash borer moves through a forest, it will completely kill all of the mature ash trees within three or four years.”

She led the scientific assessment that resulted in classifying the five species as critically endangered — meaning they are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. The change appears on the IUCN’s Red List, considered by scientists the official index of what animals and plants are in danger of disappearing. The species are the green, black, white, pumpkin and blue ash.

A sixth species, the Carolina ash, was put in the less serious category of “endangered” because it might find some refuge from the infestation in the southern part of its range, which includes Florida, Texas and Cuba, Westwood said.

Dan Herms, an entomologist at Ohio State University who studies the ash borer, called it “the most devastating insect ever to invade North American forests.” It’s already the most expensive because it has killed so many urban trees that had to be removed, disposed of and replaced, which has cost billions of dollars, he said.

Herms, who was not involved in the IUCN project, said he’s not sure the ash species will literally disappear. But he said they could become “functionally extinct,” with populations too small to play a significant role in the environment for benefits like providing shelter and filtering water.

September 14, 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Woody Invasive Plant Control in the Fall

Invasive plants are non-native and can reduce economic values, damage the environment, or cause harm to human health. Autumn is a great time to identify and manage invasive plants in your woodland. The yellow foliage, yellow capsules, and bright red berries of oriental bittersweet are easy to spot, and buckthorn trees and other invasive shrubs are easier to locate and identify because their leaves hang on late into the fall without changing color.

Some commonly seen invasive woody plants in Pennsylvania include: tree-of-heaven, buckthorn, Norway maple, callery pear, princess tree, white mulberry, Asian bush honeysuckles, multi-flora rose, Japanese barberry, autumn olive, and privet. For details on these invasive species and more, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) web site.

While mowing or cutting can be used as a management strategy, most deciduous trees and shrubs will re- sprout vigorously following cutting. Some woody invasive plants like tree-of-heaven can re-sprout from underground lateral roots several feet from the main plant. For effective control, these species must be controlled chemically.

Chemical Control Methods
1. Cut Stump Treatment - Cut the plant near the ground and treat the cut surface (inner bark and sapwood) immediately with a labeled herbicide.
2. Frill Applications (Hack and Squirt) - Use a hatchet or similar device to make frills, or cuts at a downward angle, at proper spacing around stem. Cuts must penetrate into the sapwood. Spray herbicide into cuts.
3. Low Volume Basal Spray - Using an oil carrier and herbicide, thoroughly wet the bark and any exposed roots from ground line up 12 to 18 inches.
4. Foliar Application - Mist the herbicide mixture onto the foliage of targeted plants. Do not spray to the point of runoff. Spray leaves to wet around the entire tree. Avoid spraying non-target plants.

For more detailed information on forest herbicide application methods see the publication entitled: Herbicides and Forest Vegetation Management form Penn State Extension. Always read and follow label directions, wear recommended protective clothing and avoid contact with non-target plants. The label directions will list plants controlled, areas where the herbicide can be used, and application methods. Before purchasing a brush control herbicide, read the label to verify the product is labeled for your site and will control the plants you want to eliminate.

Two of the most successful and commonly used active ingredients include glyphosate and triclopyr. Glyphosate (e.g. Roundup®) is a non-selective herbicide which can injure any green plant. Triclopyr is a selective herbicide active on broadleaf plants. Triclopyr has two formulations: amine, or water base, (e.g. Vastlan formally Garlon 3A) and ester, or oil base (e.g. Garlon 4 Ultra). Even after treatment with an herbicide, re-sprouting and seedling sprouts may continue for years. Monitor sites for re-growth annually and retreat as needed.

Non-Chemical Control Methods
Non-chemical treatment options may vary with species and age of the woody plant.
1. Pulling - Removing the root by pulling is effective when soil moisture is high and plants are small. Success is species specific. Asian bush honeysuckles are relatively shallow rooted and easily pulled. Hand pulling tools are also available (e.g. Weed Wrench and Puller Bear).
2. Cut and Grind Stumps - Stumps should be chipped to below ground level to minimize re-sprouting.
3.Cut and Cover Stumps - Covering stumps with plastic or material that excludes light for two years can reduce sprouting.(Methods 2 & 3 are effective on species that stump sprout. They are not effective on species that sucker or spread from lateral roots.
4. Frequent Mowing - Repeated mowing may control woody broadleaf plants. However, frequent mowing favors grasses which may not provide beneficial habitat for wildlife. Mowing on a 3 year rotation (1/3 of area each year) may be enough to control invasive shrubs and promote native forbs. If large stems exist initially they should be cut by hand and chemically stump treated to prevent re-sprouting.

Equipment for controlling undesirable woody plants varies from inexpensive hand tools to large power equipment. Selection of tools will be determined by budgets, size of plants, number of plants, size of the site being managed and who will be doing the work.

Re-Establishing Native Vegetation
Many native tree species can re-establish once undesirable invasive plants are controlled. Desirable plants can also be seeded or transplanted. There are a number of native small trees and shrubs that could be considered to improve wildlife habitat such as; high-bush blueberry, winterberry holly, spicebush, buttonbush, nannyberry viburnum, arrowwood viburnum, crabapple, hawthorn, elderberry, American plum, serviceberry, chokecherry, gray dogwood, American hazelnut, and black chokeberry. In many cases, for plantings and the re-establishment of native vegetation to be successful it will be necessary to reduce the impact of deer through controlled hunting and the use of the DMAP program.

Revised from Woody Vegetation Control, University of Minnesota Extension.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Defend the PSU College of Ag Sciences Budget

There was a serious change for the worse yesterday afternoon in the state budget.  It means that PSU might not receive $230.4 million in state funds,  about 10% of their budget, and in addition, the College of Ag Sciences will uniquely lose more, another $52.3 million in funding for Research and Extension, which in turn would directly cause the loss of  more than $20 million in federal funds.  The state legislature is not scheduled to meet again until October 16. 

- Please use and distribute President Barron’s call to action.
- In addition, use this link to make contact with legislators. It should literally take three clicks and less than a minute for stakeholders to make their voices heard!  Thank you.

October 4, 2017
University officials have received news out of Harrisburg today (Oct. 4) that the Commonwealth’s protracted budget impasse continues, as elected leaders continue to fail to come to an agreement on the fiscal plan – holding up passage of funding for state-related universities, including Penn State.

Penn State officials are urging members of the state House of Representatives to pass the University’s funding bill and send it on to Gov. Tom Wolf to “at least provide us with some assurance that we will be funded this year.”

Failure to enact Penn State’s appropriation bill means that not only will the University not receive $230.4 million in state funds, most of which goes toward keeping in-state tuition lower, but Penn College in Williamsport would not receive $22 million, and Agricultural Research and Extension would not receive $52.3 million. All of the funds are vital to ongoing operations.

“The absence of an appropriation would result in a direct impact on our students and their families, since these funds are used to keep tuition lower for Pennsylvania students,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Without this critical funding from the Commonwealth, we will be unable to run our extension programs that impact Pennsylvanians in all 67 counties. This would be a devastating outcome, but we remain hopeful that our state legislators can come together in support of Penn State, which creates more than $17 billion in economic impact for the state and educates tens of thousands of students annually.”

As proposed by Gov. Wolf in February, the budget includes level funding of $230.4 million for Penn State’s general support appropriation. Including the additional funds listed above for Agricultural Research and Extension and Penn College, a total appropriation of $318.2 million is in jeopardy.

Penn State has been operating without state funds since July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.