Owning a piece of the same homestead that my ancestors settled makes me a steward of this earth. Like my parents and grandparents, there are days when I am sweaty and exhausted from good honest work in the soil; there are days when I sit in my cushioned chair on the deck admiring the clouds. I am fortunate to have ”one foot in the city” and “one foot on the farm.”
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Losing a Tree to Pine Wilt is Painful
Mixed ages of landscape trees
If you have ever had
to take a chainsaw to a 60 ft. pine tree on your property, then you know the
pain of losing a featured landscape tree.Here in Kansas, we are losing many stately trees to “pine wilt,”
which has affected my older neighborhood severely.
Pine wilt is caused
by a plant parasitic nematode, referred to as the pine wood nematode, which is
carried on the pine sawyer, an ugly insect in itself, which tends to have a
taste for our “exotic” pine trees.As
the pine sawyer feeds, the nematodes hop off, infect the tree and live and
reproduce in the resin canals of the branch and trunk of the tree.An infected tree will die within a few
months. Of course, landowners are asked to remove and burn the wood immediately
to contain the disease.
Our summer field
based botany class visited the John Pair Horticultural Research site last week,
just south of Wichita, and reviewed some of the research being conducted on
pine wilt.As an aging facility, the
research site has trees affected by pine wilt as
Dead wood inside tent traps
well as healthy evergreens for
comparison.Their current research is to
determine wilt resistant trees for landscape use.
In a small greenhouse
located at the site, insect collection chambers have been set up to determine infestation
rates.Filled with dead trees of varied
species, emergent pine sawyers are counted and documented.The degree of infection can then be
determined and attributed.
collections have been applied to young
pine trees thought to be
resistant.The trees will then be observed
and documented for resulting infection.
I suppose the
importance of trees of an “exotic” nature in this area might be questioned, but
I have always been a softy for any tree that is clearly beneficial.Of course, the advice of the extension service
is to plant native trees that are resistant to wilt, but one hates to lose a
tree for any reason.Especially as older
elms and weaker trees are removed, the landscapes take years to recover.
The research at John
Pair research center is encouraging in that it seems to hit at the heart of
city folks who treasure the trees that have taken generations to grow.