Two tree pests affect oaks and yellow-poplar in Western N.C.

By on July 1, 2015

Forestry-Files-740x420Most years, native forest pests munch on trees, never really causing huge disturbances or widespread damage.  Natural enemies, environmental conditions, and interactions with the host plant generally keep populations low. But every once in a while, when environmental conditions are perfectly-suited, pest populations build and an outbreak can occur, catching everyone by surprise. Western North Carolina is seeing the effects of two forest pests that appear to have no plans to take summer vacation.

An entire hillside suffers from feeding of the yellow-poplar leaf mining weevil. Bottom: close-up of the damage.  Image: B. Heath, NCFS.

An entire hillside suffers from feeding of the yellow-poplar leaf mining weevil. Bottom: close-up of the damage. Image: B. Heath, NCFS.

Oak leaf blister, a disease caused by a fungus, is affecting the appearance of oaks across the western region. White and red oaks are both susceptible, but it is more common and severe in red oaks. When infected, leaves develop light green, yellow or white spots. As the disease progresses, the spots form yellow or brown puckered lesions or blisters. When the infection is severe, the entire leaf yellows, curls and drops prematurely.

Most years, oak leaf blister is minor and outbreaks are typically associated with a cool, wet spring, and chemical control is not needed. The disease only affects the leaves and, as with most defoliating pests, a single year of defoliation will not affect the long-term health of the tree. To keep damage to a minimum, landowners are encouraged to maintain general tree health, such as watering during dry periods.

The yellow-poplar leaf mining weevil is also in outbreak status, causing widespread browning and defoliation on yellow-poplar trees. This beetle is damaging to yellow-poplars, magnolias and sassafras trees. As a result of adult and larvae feeding on the leaves, the leaves turn brown and die.

Most years, the weevil is not considered a threat to yellow-poplar timber. Sporadic outbreaks have been recorded in the Eastern U.S. since the 1960s when outbreaks similar to the ones being seen now caused significant foliage loss on yellow-poplar in the Appalachian Mountains. Foliage destruction temporarily reduces the aesthetic values of landscape trees. To manage the pest, promoting general tree health is best. The outbreak should subside on its own, especially with the help of natural enemies.


Today’s Topic: Farmers markets full of summer produce

By on June 30, 2015

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” It’s high time people visited farmers markets across North Carolina. The state is fortunate to have more than 240 farmers markets of all sizes

A trip to Duke Homestead: a lesson in tobacco’s legacy

By on June 29, 2015

Having lived in Durham my whole life, I’ve always been aware of how integral tobacco was to the city’s growth and development. But, until last week, I had never explored Duke Homestead to see where it all began. In the

Steve Troxler and Michael Conaway

Troxler meets with chairman of US House Agriculture Committee

By on June 29, 2015

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and other leaders of the state’s agricultural community met in Raleigh today with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, to discuss a variety of national policy issues of interest to North Carolina farmers


News Roundup: June 20-26

By on June 26, 2015

Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to the full story. “NC suspends bird shows

The WNC Farmers Market is starting to see a large selection of fresh, juicy N.C. watermelons.

Market Report: What’s available at the market this weekend?

By on June 25, 2015

Summer is officially here, and so is the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. From succulent peaches and sweet blueberries to crisp cucumbers and juicy tomatoes, there’s a bounty of local produce waiting for you at your


In the kitchen with Brian and Lisa: Carolina Shrimp recipes

By on June 25, 2015

WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their weekly Local Dish Cooking segment. This month Brian and Lisa are cooking up a few tasty dishes featuring fresh N.C. shrimp. Local shrimp is usually available


What’s Happening on the Farm: Cucumber Research

By on June 24, 2015

Farms are places of year-round activity. There is almost always something going on, regardless of the season. Periodically, we highlight one of our research stations and the work taking place on the farm, as well as give a little insight


Today’s Topic: Food Manufacturing Task Force

By on June 23, 2015

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” Earlier this year, Gov. Pat McCrory established the North Carolina Food Manufacturing Task Force, and Commissioner Troxler is one of its core members. The task

First meeting of the Food Manufacturing Task Force takes place in Raleigh

By on June 19, 2015

Leaders in agribusiness, farming, research, higher education and government met this week in Raleigh for the first meeting of the N.C. Food Manufacturing Task Force. This task force was formed with the goal of creating jobs and expanding agriculture-based businesses.