Please help! I have lost three large pine trees since the spring and my neighbor has simply given in and had all his pines cut down. The man at the tree service said the culprit is pine beetles--what can be done to stop them and save the remaining trees?
I wish I had a better answer for you. Unfortunately, there are several common species of bark beetles that attack pines—the Southern pine beetle, the turpentine beetle and the IPS engraver beetle. Probably the most devastating is the Southern pine beetle. Some pine tree species are more susceptible than others as are weak or damaged trees. Trees damaged by lightning, ice, or drought and other natural events or construction are more likely to be infested. In the spring, beetles emerge and colonize new host trees. Infested trees decline rapidly especially during hot, dry summer months and infestations may spread from tree to tree as additional beetles are attracted to the site of infestation. Multiple generations may be completed within a year. If there are large populations they can attack healthy trees. While there are some sprays on the market, timing and repeated spraying would be needed, so they really are not all that effective—and they are for prevention, not cure. The best defense is a strong offense—keep your trees healthy and prune out any damage that occurs from weather. The turpentine beetle and the IPS engraver beetle often come in to finish off the trees that are too far gone to save anyway.
How do you grow a pine tree from a seed?
The most common pine we grow is the loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and their seeds will grow pretty well without any special treatment. Find a mature pinecone and harvest the seeds out of it soon, before they drop on their own—which usually occurs in late October through December. Be aware that each cone may produce 20 to 200 seed. However, viability rates can be low, especially with seed that fall in November and December, so plant extra seed to have good germination rates. The seed should be placed at the surface of prepared soil. Plant the seeds in a protected spot to protect young seedlings from lawn mowers and weed eaters next spring, as well as birds and squirrels this fall. Seeds in the wild are naturally shed in the fall and germinate the next spring. The seed are generally only viable for about 1 year.
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