Georgia ReLeaf Funding Available

Trees in fogThe Georgia Urban Forest Council, in cooperation with the Georgia Forestry Commission, established the Georgia ReLeaf  program to bring urban forests in storm-struck communities back to life by making funds available for planting trees in public areas such as parks, schools, main streets, and business districts.

This year, the Georgia ReLeaf program is also making funding available for tree planting projects benefiting or involving our military veterans. For more information about the funding process and to download an application, click here.

Arborist info from Georgia Urban Forestry Council

This info taken from the Georgia Urban Forestry Council E-Newsletter

  • GUFC logoSpaces are still available in the January 14-15 Arborist Certification Review Class, for those planning to take the ISA Arborist Exam.  This class will be held at the Wetlands Educational Center in Richmond Hill.  Scholarship are available for tree boards and tree care workers employed by a city, county, school or university who are not ISA Certified Arborists.  Certified arborists who would like to take the class as a refresher course can receive 12.75 ISA CEUs.  For more details, visit www.gufc.org.
  • Many presentations from GUFC’s October Annual Conference, “Tree Canopy and Green Infrastructure:  Creating Vibrant and Healthy Communities,” can be founded on our website here.
  • Oregon State University (OSU) is pleased to announce the availability of two online urban forestry courses during Winter Quarter 2014 (January 6 – March 21, 2014). FES/HORT 350 Urban Forestry is an introductory undergraduate course the covers a wide range of urban forestry concepts and topics, and is suitable for anyone wanting a comprehensive understanding of the urban forestry discipline. FES/HORT 455/555 Urban Forest Planning Policy and Management is an upper level undergraduate/graduate course that offers a detailed look at the complex challenges faced by urban forestry professionals.  Read more here.
  • The Arbor Day Foundation is seeking nominations for its Arbor Day Awards Program, where they recognize outstanding individuals, environmental leaders and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts.  Learn more about  this awards program and nominate a deserving candidate here. Deadline is December 31.
  • The December 31st deadline for applying for Tree Campus USA status or for recertification is coming up soon – click here.
  • You can also apply or recertify for Tree City USA, or learn more about the program, at their portal link.
  • Also, learn more about Tree Line USA, which recognizes best practices in utility arboriculture at this site. 

Winterizing Trees: Dormant Season Preparations

Kim D. Coder Professor of Tree Biology & Health Care, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Find the entire article here.

Have you winterized your trees yet? Fall is a time of serious change and reorganization within a tree. Many trees will not survive to grow in another spring. You can help your trees survive and thrive.

Winter is a difficult time for trees. Trees must stand in the face of drying and cold winds. Food reserves must be carefully conserved for the coming needs of spring. Water continues to be lost from the tree. Any creature needing a meal chews and nibbles on the resting buds and twigs. Trees stand alone against all circumstances that the winter season can generate.

A few small investments now can pay-off in a large way, yielding a healthy and structurally sound tree.

The “Top 10 List” of things you can do to winterize your tree include:

  1. Remove or correct structural faults and deadwood that are clearly visible. Try to make small pruning cuts that minimize the exposure of the central heartwood core on branches.
  2. Properly prune branches that will touch the ground when loaded with rain and snow. Foliage and branches that are in contact with soil can invite undesirable pests and problems.
  3. Remove damaged and declining twigs, branches, and bark. Do not leave pests food and shelter for the winter.
  4. Remove any new sprouts that have grown at the tree base, or along stems and branches. Pruning should conserve as many living branches as possible with only a few selective cuts.
  5. Spread a thin layer of composted organic mulch to blanket the soil. Cover an area at least as large as the branch spread. Mulch is nature’s of recycling valuable materials, but be careful of pests hitching a ride.
  6. Properly wrap new trees that have not developed a corky bark and could be easily damaged. Mechanical injury from the environment, including chewing and rubbing by animals, must be prevented.
  7. Aerate soils if they are compacted and poorly drained. It is critical not to damage tree roots in the soil. Saturated and dense soil can suffocate roots.
  8. Fertilize with all the essential elements, if they are in short supply within the soil. Be sure to go lightly with nitrogen, especially under large, mature trees and around newly planted trees.
  9. Watering may be needed where soils are cool but not frozen, and there has been little precipitation. Winter droughts need treatment with water the same as summer droughts, except it is much easier to over-water in winter.

Trees are investments that require a small amount of care. For the sake of your tree’s quality of life and your own, take a few minutes to winterize your tree. Wonderful springs come from well-tended winters.

Circuit Rider Arborists Take to the Road

Article taken from the the GUFC Tree Talks Newsletter.

The Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) has been allocated Urban and Community Forestry funding from the U.S. Forest Service to help communities in Georgia develop effective, sustainable community forestry programs. This funding has been used to initiate a Circuit Rider Arborist Project which, in partnership with the Georgia Urban Forest Council, will provide the services of an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) arborist to communities wishing to develop or broaden their community forestry program.

Some of the services to communities may take the form of:

  • Meeting with community officials to promote the benefits of an effective community forestry program.
  • Providing technical expertise and professional advice on tree management issues and activities.
  • Writing, revising or evaluating tree ordinances.
  • Developing effective, efficient tree boards.
  • Working with current Tree City USA communities to strengthen and improve their community forestry programs.
  • Encouraging and working with communities to become a Tree City USA, by providing assistance and guidance with completing required paperwork.
  • Developing a management or storm mitigation plan.
  • Creating partnerships with municipal officials, community organizations and residents that bring resources to a municipality’s community forestry program.
  • Organizing Arbor Day events and other educational opportunities.
  • Training work crews and volunteers on proper planting, pruning, and other tree care Best Management Practices.
  • Encouraging communities to employ services of an ISA certified arborist. This may entail conducting workshops to prepare city workers or tree board members to take the ISA Certified Arborist exam.
  • Using inventory software to evaluate the economic and environmental benefits of a community’s urban forests.
  • Conducting regional roundtables on topics of interest to multiple communities.
  • Directing communities toward existing educational and arboricultural resources.

Services are free to communities, but are available on a limited basis to ensure that all communities that want to participate can take advantage of this opportunity. Communities are being asked to provide staff and volunteer time to work on selected projects with the Circuit Rider Arborist. This program is currently funded through May 2014.

For more information see the original article.

Twig Girdlers

Twig Girdler

Twig GirdlerJule-Lynne Macie, Rockdale County Extension Agent

Q:  Something is chewing off the ends of branches on some of my trees.  I go out every morning and there are three or four more on the ground.  The leaves are nice and green on the fallen branch.  Is it squirrels or could it be something else?

A:  What you are seeing is twig girdler damage.  This is a long horned beetle (so named because his antennae’s are longer than his body). It is a pest of pecan and hickory, but may also attack persimmons, hackberries and other hardwood trees.

The nature of the girdle itself distinguishes the twig girdler from other branch pruners and why I can tell it’s not a squirrel. The cut by the twig girdler is the only one made from the outside of the branch. The cut end of the branch looks like mini beaver damage. Since the twigs are girdled while the leaves are present, the severed twigs retain the leaves for some time. 

The adult beetles girdle twigs and small branches causing the ends to break away or hang loosely on the tree. It is not uncommon to see the ground under infested trees almost covered with twigs that have been cut off. The female lays her eggs in the tips of the branch then chews around the branch leaving a little wood attached in the center.  This breaks off in the wind.  If you look closely on the fallen branch you will see tiny holes where the eggs were laid.  The holes will usually be by a bud scar or near a side shoot. 

They aren’t hurting the tree unless you had a pecan orchard, then the loss of branch tips could reduce nut production in the following few years.  Most girdled twigs are from 1/4 to 1/2 inch (occasionally up to 3/4 inch) in diameter, and 10 to 30 inches long.

The best control is to pick up the twigs and discard them as the larvae develop and pupate in them.  Insecticide is rarely justified or practical.

(Editor’s note – squirrels can also clip off limbs but the cut ends will look chewed or broken)

eLearn Urban Forestry Online Training

Trees in fog - MS Word clipartThe Office of the Southern Regional Extension Forester, the USDA FS Region 8–Urban and Community Forestry Program along with the Southern Group of State Foresters have partnered to design, develop and implement a state-of-the-art online, distance-learning program geared specifically toward beginning urban foresters and those allied professionals working in and around urban and urbanizing landscapes

To access the modules for free, please visit www.elearn.sref.info

To access the modules for International Society of Arboriculture and Society of American Foresters credit, please visit www.cfegroup.org

To access the modules for volunteer credit or a certificate of completion, visit www.campus.extension.org  and look for the eLearn Urban Forestry–Citizen Forester course.

For more specific information, please contact Sarah Ashton, Educational Program Coordinator, Southern Regional Extension Forestry at sashton@sref.info.

Fall is the time to plant and transplant trees and shrubs

Image credit, Krissy Slagle, UGA

By Merritt Melancon and Frank M. Watson , UGA Cooperative Extension 

Although most planting and transplanting occurs in the spring, fall is the best time of year to plant or transplant trees and shrubs.

“Trees planted in the fall have an opportunity to establish an extensive root system while the plant is dormant,” said Frank Watson, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator in Wilkes County. “The soil temperature in most parts of the state is warm enough to support root growth during most or all of the winter season.”

Image credit, Krissy Slagle, UGA
Fall is the perfect time to install new trees or shrubs or remove existing ones to new locations. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension experts recommend digging the planting hole two to three times the diameter of the soil ball. Image credit: Krissy Slagle.

First make sure the trees or shrubs are healthy enough to plant in a new environment. If you’re buying new trees or shrubs from a nursery, make sure the trunk is not damaged, said Matthew Chappell, a UGA Extension nursery production specialist.

“If you see any damage to the bark, do not purchase (that tree),” Chappell said. The same goes for trees that are already on your property. You don’t want to stress an already damaged tree by transplanting.

Chappell added that picking trees with straight trunks and symmetrical canopies will save you a lot of heartache in the future. They’ll be easier to prune into a desired shape and typically are more structurally sound.

Also avoid purchasing pot-bound trees. Check the container for circling roots which indicate that the tree or shrub will have a poor root system after it’s been planted.

If you’re working with a tree that’s already on your property, help the plant take a break from producing new branches and leaves before transplanting. The plant can then put most of its energy into adapting to its new environment, not into producing new growth above the soil. Avoid applying high nitrogen fertilizers to plants for about two months prior to moving. Another way to reduce new growth is to restrict the amount of water applied. However, severe water stress prior to transplanting can weaken the plant and decrease the survival rate, Watson said.

In addition to having their growth restricted, transplanted shrubs and trees need to have their roots pruned. Pruning a tree’s roots — trimming them back until they fit inside the soil ball — maximizes the quantity of feeder roots that are moved with the plant. Ideally, plants targeted for fall transplanting would have their roots pruned the spring before they’re replanted, but they can still be pruned 30 to 60 days before transplanting in the fall.

Whether you’re working with a newly purchased plant or one on your property, it’s important to pay extra attention to preparing the plant’s new home. Properly preparing the planting site will affect root growth, which determines the plant’s chances of survival and subsequent growth.

The planting hole should be two to three times the diameter of the soil ball. Place the plant at the same soil depth it was grown at. If planting several small plants close together, it may be more efficient and better for the plant to prepare an entire bed.

When physically planting your shrub or tree, try not to disturb the soil ball of the plant. This will ensure maximum contact between the roots and the soil, which will speed the plant’s creation of its new root system.

A broken or loosened soil ball may prevent the plant from absorbing all of the water it needs. Wetting the soil around the shrub or tree can keep the soil ball together as you transplant. You may want to use wire baskets or other equipment that is available for moving plants.

Don’t plant trees and shrubs so that water pools on the surface of the planting hole. But remember, the plant will need extra water for the first two years.

Wait several months, maybe until the following spring, to fertilize the newly transplanted tree. This allows the root system to establish itself before spurring new growth above ground.

(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Frank Watson is the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent in Wilkes County, Ga.)

Emerald Ash Borer found with a foothold in North Georgia

EAB Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service
Emerald Ash Borer, Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Sandi Martin and Merritt Melancon,  University of Georgia 

For years foresters and invasive insect experts have been on the lookout for the arrival of an unwelcome guest in Georgia. Now that it’s here, they hope the public will help restrict its spread within Georgia.

The small, iridescent-green beetle has killed millions of ash trees across a wide swath of Canada and the upper Midwest since it was first detected in 2002. The emerald ash borer — Agrilus planipennis— has spread south and west from infested areas over the last decade.

In July, researchers found adult emerald ash borers in survey traps in DeKalb and Fulton counties. A follow-up ground survey found larvae in nearby ash trees, confirming an established emerald ash borer infestation.

EAB larvae David Cappaert, Michigan State University
Emerald Ash Borer larvae in tree, David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Since 2005 University of Georgia invasive species experts have conducted an extensive trapping program in Georgia to screen for the emerald ash borer.

Georgia’s five species of native ash trees usually grow along stream banks. While ash only makes up about 1 percent of Georgia forests, they play an integral role in preventing the erosion of stream banks and keeping silt out of natural waterways. Ash is also a popular landscape tree, with 2.9 million trees planted around Georgia homes, businesses, parks and greenways. The value of these city trees in Georgia is estimated to be around $725 million.

EAB exit hole Penn. Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources - Forestry Archive
Emerald Ash borer creates a D-shaped exit hole, Image from Penn. Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources – Forestry Archive, Bugwood.rog

Although the adult beetle is an active flyer, it is believed that the primary way the beetle spreads is by hitching a ride on infested ash firewood, logs and nursery stock. Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by burrowing serpentine tunnels in the inner layers of bark, preventing the tree from transporting water and nutrients to and from the tree canopy.

The Georgia Invasive Species Task Force will launch a public outreach plan to try to curb the spread of this pest in the near future. This task force consists of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Forestry Commission, UGA, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

People can help slow the spread of this beetle through Georgia by not moving firewood and by helping others to understand how dangerous it can be to move firewood from one area to another.

“To prevent the spread of emerald ash borer, it is important not to move firewood in which the insect can hide,” said Kamal Gandhi, associate professor in the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Buy local firewood, whether camping or for your home.”

To help reduce the spread of the emerald ash borer in Georgia, homeowners with ash trees should have a certified arborist check their trees for signs of emerald ash borer infestations.

Suspected infestations should be reported immediately so that foresters or arborists can understand how the infestation is spreading. This will aid in the development of effective methods to reduce its spread and impact.

“The faster (scientists) can track the spread of the insect, the faster they can work to stop it,” said Joe LaForest, integrated pest management and forest health coordinator at the UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

The public can report suspected infestations by:

For more information about the emerald ash borer and how to protect ash trees, visit www.gainvasives.org/eab.

For more information about spotting signs of emerald ash borer infestations, watch this.

(Sandi Martin is the public relations coordinator with the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Other information:

Emerald ash borer factsheet

Emerald Ash Borer 2013 Update

Frequently asked questions about EAB in Georgia

Destructive tree pest discovered in Georgia

Wood decay and falling trees are of great concern

Jean Williams-Woodward, UGA Extension Plant Pathologist

Damage from past years of drought has taken a toll on our trees. Drought stress, construction injury, soil compaction and root girdling injures tree roots and provides an entry point for wood decay fungi. Storm damage, improper pruning, and wounding of trunks and branches also leads to wood decay fungi entry and infection.

Wood decay fungi can be classified into two broad categories: white-rot and brown-rot fungi.

White-rotters are those fungi that rapidly breakdown lignin and eventually cellulose. The infected wood becomes soft, spongy and stringy. It is usually a root and butt rot by a white-rot fungus that causes hardwood trees to fail and fall (see images of Inonotus dryadeus).

Brown-rotters are those fungi that breakdown cellulose and eventually lignin. Wood crumbles and shrinks. These rots are often referred to as a cubical or dry rot.

Regardless of the type of rot and what fungus is infecting the tree, if you see conks or mushrooms growing on the tree trunk or root flare, then the tree is in advanced stages of infection and decay and there is a concern for possible tree failure. It takes years for infection and growth of the fungus in the wood to produce outward signs of conks and mushrooms.

At present, methods to accurately detect how much rot is present in the wood do not exist. There are methods to detect internal cavities in trees to determine the thickness of a trunk shell, but measurements of spongy wood is difficult. There is no cure for wood decay. The best management approach is preventing injury to trunks, branches, and roots.

Forest Pest Insects in North America: a Photographic Guide

R. G. Van Driesche1, J. LaForest2, C. Bargeron2, R. Reardon3 and M. Herlihy1

1University of Massachusetts, PSIS/Entomology; 2University of Georgia; 3USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry

Orangestriped oakworm, Lacy L. Hyche, Auburn University, Bugwood
Orangestriped oakworm, Lacy L. Hyche, Auburn University, Bugwood

The photos present in this publication are intended to help foresters, urban landscaping employees, or others working with trees recognize some of the common pest insects affecting trees in North America and understand their life cycles and how they damage trees.

Read moreForest Pest Insects in North America: a Photographic Guide