The Kansas Department of Agriculture is urging Kansas with dead pine trees to properly remove the trees this month.
April is an important time to prevent the spread of pine wilt disease. Trees killed by pine wilt may be hosts of the pine sawyer beetle that moves the disease from tree to tree. Pine sawyers usually emerge from dead trees in May through July. Emergence of the pests will likely be earlier this spring because of warm conditions.
“It is important to destroy dead pine trees in order to slow the spread of pine wilt in Kansas,” plant pathologist Jon Appel said. “Removal and cleanup of all branches more than an inch in diameter has proven effective in stopping or at least slowing the disease.”
Homeowners should take dead pine trees to a site where the trees will be burned. Wood may also be chipped or buried to stop the cycle, but those chips shouldn’t be used as mulch on pine trees.
Wood from a removed pine tree also shouldn’t be used as firewood. Any movement of the wood or delay in burning may allow pine sawyers to emerge and start a pine wilt outbreak.
Pine wilt is a disease specific to pine trees. Pines affected in Kansas include Scotch, Austrian, Mugo (shrub pine), and a few others. The disease is generally not found in native North American pines such as the Ponderosa and Eastern White.
In addition to removing dead trees, Kansans with trees displaying pine wilt symptoms should notify their local extension agent or the Kansas Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Program at (785) 862-2180. Symptoms include wilting and needles turning a dull green. If conditions are hot and dry, the tree rapidly dies, with needles turning brown and resin stopping to flow.