Why are my Hemlock trees turning brown?

Possibly because of a tiny Dracula…

The Eastern Hemlock and the Carolina Hemlock, which inhabit many of our Tennessee forests and landscapes, are being attacked by a small, aphid-like pest known as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). This pest, a native of Asia, is wreaking havoc among Hemlock populations throughout the eastern United States from Maine to Georgia, often killing trees within 3-10 years of infestation if left untreated. 

The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid ( Adelges tsugae) gets its name from the waxen, wool-like filaments that surround it and its ovisac (or egg sack).  The woolly covering retains moisture and protects the adelgid and its eggs from natural predators.  These fibers are most easily recognizable between fall and spring, when the adelgid is laying eggs.  Basically, the bugs look like tiny, fuzzy cottonballs coating the underside of the Hemlock twig.  This is where the adelgids are slowly sucking the life out of the Hemlock like vampires, feeding on the sap at the base of the needles.  The bugs are all females that clone themselves, producing more adelgids that then float over to devour other hemlocks nearby.  This causes needles to brown, and the tree to die slowly from the top down. 

If treated appropriately, infestations of HWA can be controlled, and trees can be saved. Re-treatment is recommended every 2 to 5 years depending on the size and location of the tree, and the severity of the infestation. It is also recommended to preventatively treat Hemlocks that aren’t yet showing signs of infestation, as HWA spreads easily and rapidly to surrounding trees (floating, cotton ball vampires).

If you suspect a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid infestation in your trees, contact the seasoned professionals at Panther Creek Forestry, LLC. Their team of foresters and biologists are certified pesticide applicators, and will evaluate your Hemlocks to create a treatment and maintenance plan specific to your property and budget.  Call or click “request a quote” to speak with us about HWA control, or any of your other forest needs and concerns.

What is a Timber Inventory and Appraisal – and Why Do I Need One?

A timber inventory is a systematic sampling method used to estimate the species and volumes of standing timber in your forest. Lower intensity sampling can sometimes be used for making forest management recommendations, but a “market level” inventory is more common, and is useful for a number of reasons including timber sales and establishing a timber basis.

Conducting an accurate timber inventory is key to getting maximum value from a timber sale. A market level timber inventory includes the collection of measurements on merchantable timber using a sampling intensity to target a 90-95% confidence in reported volumes. Data is gathered using a 10 factor basal area prism to record measurements in plots on a fixed grid. The number of plots determines the level of confidence in reported volumes – more plots = more accurate volume information and a higher confidence level. Timber volume can be reported in a number of ways, but is most commonly reported in pulpwood tons, sawtimber tons, and/or sawtimber board feet (the Doyle scale is most commonly used in this area). Successful marketing of a timber sale depends largely on the confidence of bidders in the inventory volumes presented in an invitation to bid.

After determining the volume of timber on the property, we appraise the value by considering a number of factors including published regional market value trends, recent timber sales, current local and regional market conditions, access and terrain constraints, observed quality of timber, and any stipulations the landowner may place on harvest operations that are outside of industry standards. Using a comprehensive approach to determining timber value helps to avoid inflated appraisals, and gives the landowner a realistic idea of potential revenue from a harvest.

The landowner receives a copy of volume reports and summaries, maps of the property, and estimated market values for timber products. A high-confidence timber appraisal can also be used to establish a timber basis for capital gains treatment of a property, which is helpful for estate planning and future tax purposes. Call us to discuss how a market level inventory and appraisal can help you plan for your forest’s future.