Tree disease and insect outbreaks are a lot like fires and floods - they make the news headlines and can lead to some anxiety on the part of landowners. They may also bring out those who are using the crisis to take advantage of that anxiety to make some fast money. I was recently contacted by a landowner who had been advised by a person wanting to buy some timber from him that he should sell some walnut trees "before they are all killed by Thousand Cankers Disease". There certainly are times when we should consider harvesting trees before they are destroyed by a pest as part of a timber management program (Emerald Ash Borer for instance), but the evidence we have related to Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) would suggest that selling your trees immediately to avoid mortality and loss is not necessary. Thousand Cankers Disease has two components: a small twig beetle that carries a canker-forming fungus into the inner bark of walnuts. Black walnut trees in several states have been killed by this disease complex, but so far, although the fungus was found on some weevils in Brown County and the beetle was recently detected at a sawmill in Franklin County, no walnut trees in Indiana have been confirmed as killed by TCD. For additional information on TCD you can visit the following web sites: Thousand Cankers Disease and Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) TCD.
There is currently no strong evidence suggesting a need to rush to harvest walnut for fear of a massive die-off caused by TCD. In fact, some trees infected with TCD in Tennessee have shown some recovery from disease symptoms that has coincided with improved growing conditions at those sites. This would suggest doing management that keeps walnut healthy and vigorous like thinning, vine control, and elimination of invasive plant species may help your trees resist damage from TCD and other diseases or enviromental extremes. This story also demonstrates the importance of getting professional, science-based advice with your forest management decisions. Consult a professional forester when making decisions about the sale of trees. You can find foresters in your area at Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association (IFWOA)-Directory of Professional Foresters. You can learn more about considerations when selling timber at Call Before You Cut and the extension publications Tips on How to Get the Most From Your Timber Harvest and Marketing Timber.
Landowners, timber buyers, and foresters form an important team to manage and utilize the amazing renewable resource that is our hardwood forest in Indiana. There are many reputable firms across the state that purchase timber, providing a great marketplace and economic value to landowners. Your professional forester can help you choose the right buyers, loggers, and market outlets to provide a fair price for the products and good work in the woods. Get their help and do your homework before making that decision.
Thousand Cankers Disease
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) TCD
Directory of Professional Foresters - Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association (IFWOA)
Tips on How to Get the Most From Your Timber Harvest - The Education Store, Purdue Agriculture Resource Center
Marketing Timber - The Education Store, Purdue Agriculture Resource Center
Got Nature? - Department of Forestry and Natural Resources
Lenny Farlee, Hardwood Ecosystem Extension Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University