Pine tree decline in Alabama may be drought related

The Alabama Forestry Commission recently said it is receiving increased notifications from state residents that trees, especially pines, are dying, leading forestry professionals to suspect it is due to complications related to drought as they search for the cause.

“Some trees typically die immediately following an extended period of drought such as we experienced last fall, particularly smaller seedlings and saplings,” AFC Forester/Forest Health Coordinator Dana Stone said in a recent release. “The most damaging results, however, may take longer to emerge. Drought-stressed trees can be weakened, causing them to be more susceptible to insects and diseases. These symptoms of long-term injury are just now appearing, especially in our state’s pine forests.”

Foresters have visited areas where forest landowners reported tree deaths and have found brown needles and pitch tubes indicative of bark beetle infestations. The foresters suspect a range of beetles, including the Southern pine beetle, the Ips engraver beetle and the black turpentine beetle, as well as indications in some areas of some deodar weevil infestations, the release said.

“The Alabama Forestry Commission continues to conduct aerial surveys to assess beetle activity across the state, but landowners need to understand the seriousness of this situation,” Interim State Forester Gary Cole said in the release. “To ensure the overall health of their forest stand, they should monitor their property for signs of damage and contact their local AFC office or registered forester for management recommendations before taking any action.”

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State of Alabama

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