Originally posted on the Buckeye Yard and Garden OnLine
While the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) (SLF) has not been detected in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), along with the Ohio State University (OSU) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) are urging Ohioans to continue to be on the look-out for this invasive insect. Many are using the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) App to report tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), a favorite food or host for this plant hopper, especially as an adult, and then revisiting the tree looking for signs and symptoms of SLF throughout the year.
Yes, there are right and wrong ways to plant a tree. By following correct planting practices, you can ensure trees will avoid a slow decline and possible death from several causes. This is especially important for trees, which can be a large, long-lasting, and worthwhile landscape investment.
Choose the right tree for the right site, not just a tree you like. This means that it will be cold hardy in your area. It also means that it will be adaptable to your soils and site. A sugar maple near pavement and buildings may dry out with leaves turning brown, or show salt injury if near roads. A pine tree will grow poorly on a heavy clay soil.
Choose a healthy tree. This is one that has a good amount of roots in proportion to the tops. Beware of trees that have been recently dug from the wild with little or no preparation prior to digging. Often you get what you pay for. Obviously check for signs of leaf injury from pests or diseases or trunk damage from mishandling. Local nurseries with trained professionals are your best bet usually for buying healthy and appropriate trees.
Beware of trees sold in many large national chain stores. These usually have been grown in distant areas, and may not be acclimated to our area. I have found ones at such stores with few roots, the pots containing stones to hold the plants upright. If in doubt, gently pull the plant out of the pot and look at the roots. If non-existent, too few roots, too small pot and root size for the plant top, or the plant is pot-bound, keep looking. Continue reading →
Originally posted in the Secrest Arboretum Newsletter.
Fall is here and that means trees are releasing their fruits produced over the summer. For squirrels and other wildlife, this is a busy time. It is a busy time for us here at Secrest too.
Our staff and volunteers have been out collecting and cleaning various tree fruits to sow in the spring. Each year we receive questions on how to grow oaks, or buckeyes, or other trees from seed. Usually when someone plants an acorn or a buckeye it doesn’t grow simply because it didn’t receive the right conditions needed to germinate.
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) was first discovered in Ohio in 2012. Since then it has been found at several locations including the Hocking Hills State Park in Hocking County and Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve in Jackson County. This nonnative invasive pest has the potential to cause widespread mortality in Ohio’s hemlock forests.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Divisions of Forestry, Parks, and Natural Areas and Preserves), The Nature Conservancy, Ohio State University Extension, the Hocking Hills Conservation Association and others have joined forces to bring to offer an educational program “Hemlock Woolly Adelgid-A pest threatening Ohio’s Hemlocks at two locations in April:
Kelly and Dan Brown, Knox County-area maple syrup producers.
Maple syrup production at the Brown family farm, north of Fredericktown in Knox County, has been a mainstay for about as long as anyone can remember.
Brothers Dan and Kelly Brown, 63 and 64, have tapped all of their lives, the same is true of their father, the late William Brown, who built the family’s current sugarhouse in 1948.
But the history goes much deeper. In the early 1900s, several thousand people met on the Brown property for a social event called the Waterford Picnic, a carnival that drew people from all over.
And there is evidence that some of the farm’s oldest trees have been tapped since the early 1800s.
“When we cut some of the 200-year-old trees down, we could tell they were tapped,” said Dan Brown.
The family has owned the same land since the 1840s and said it has been continuously tapped since 1948, when Will and his wife, Kate, began with just 600 taps. Today, the Browns have 1,800 taps, and come late winter, it’s just a fact of life that they’re going to find themselves working in the sugarhouse.
The Browns say making syrup is a lot like farming — once you get started, you keep going.
“It’s just what we do,” Dan Brown said. “It’s such a unique product for one thing. The history of it, the whole tradition of it. And I enjoy working in the woods.”
Kelly Brown, who manages the Owl Creek Produce Auction, said it’s fun to make a product people enjoy and want.
“Our track record tells us we make a pretty good product that consumers really like and they tell us that,” he said. “There’s terrific demand for our product.”
Syrup produced on the Brown family farm is marketed under the name Bonhomie Acres, a name Dan and Kelly’s mother, Kate, chose that stood for “gentle nature” or “good-natured man.” According to Dan Brown, it was mostly a way of giving the farm a unique name, outside of just “Brown’s maple farm.”
Bonhomie Acres maple syrup can be found in retail stores as far south as Dayton and Cincinnati, and it is sold locally and also at the farm at 7001 Quaker Road.
The Browns sell between 2,500-3,000 gallons of syrup a year, and it all begins the same way.
In late spring, when the winter freeze begins to break, the sap in the maple trees begins to flow. The freeze-thaw cycle that is typical of February-March keeps the sap flowing, and makes for the most ideal window for collection.
The Browns rely on some of the old-fashioned metal buckets, and they also rely on many miles of plastic tubing that drain near the sugarhouse. They tap about 45 acres of local woodland and rent an additional 90 acres that drains into collection tanks, which has to be trucked to the sugarhouse.
In addition to gravity and the natural flow of the sap, the line system relies on a vacuum pump, which, lowers the pressure outside of the tree and helps stimulate the flow of sap. The trees are unharmed and provide decades of service — some that have lived 200 years.
Inside the sugarhouse, the Browns rely on a 3-by-12-foot oil-fired evaporator, which removes the water from the sap, resulting in maple syrup. The syrup is first stored in barrels, and throughout the year, Dan repackages the syrup into retail containers with the farm’s name on the front.
Dan Brown, who is also president of Ohio Maple Producers Association, said the demand for maple products is strong, because it’s a healthy sweetener, and maple has a unique, natural flavor.
He said Ohio is fortunate when it comes to maple, because producers can reach major population centers in less than an hour, while an operation in Vermont or Canada might have to drive several hours to reach a significant market area.
“To make syrup in Ohio, it’s the best of both worlds,” Dan Brown said. “We have a population with a very large disposable income and if you make a good product, there’s no reason you can’t market it right here in Ohio.”
As president, Brown tries to advocate for the industry and ensure Ohio maple producers have a seat at the table when it comes to important production issues and policies. His father, William Brown, helped run the Malabar Farm maple syrup days for about 30 years, where the family worked to show school children how syrup is made.
Although the farm no longer does tours at its own location, the Browns are supporters of the educational component, and they support the growth of the maple industry across Ohio.
Dan’s wife, Kathie, and Kelly’s wife, Marcia, also help with the operation, along with Dan’s son, Dane, and Kelly’s son, Ross.
During the off-season, the Browns do some crop farming and other activities, but their main focus is maple syrup production.
The past couple years have been difficult for maple producers, due to unseasonably warm temperatures and a lack of normal weather patterns.
The Browns say climate change is definitely impacting what they do, but they’re adjusting.
“I’m sure we’re in a climate change, but we’re not in a weather-changed-forever,” Kelly Brown said. “You go through this stuff. Every once in a while you have a bad year and that’s all there is to it.”
But the Browns aren’t ready to call 2018 a bad year just yet. If they have to work late at night, or late into March, that’s what they’ll do.
“Three good weeks in March and we could make a lot of syrup,” Kelly said.
Even 10 days would make a big improvement, Dan said.
The Browns are hoping that March will be a bumper month, as it has been in the past. And according to the National Weather Service, which shows a lot of up-and-down temperature swings, the Browns might be in for a good month of maple syrup.
First encountered in the United States in Pennsylvania in 2014, the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) had spread to New York, Delaware, and Virginia by early 2018. The invasive insect threatens Tree of Heaven as well as grapes, hops, and fruit trees, and it has a penchant for hitchhiking. Anyone sighting spotted lanternfly is urged to report it to their state agriculture department or local extension office. (Photo credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org)
By Meredith Swett Walker
Meredith Swett Walker
In the summer of 2014, in Berks County, Pennsylvania, a keen-eyed state Game Commission officer spotted an unusual insect congregating in an ailanthus tree. It was a large plant hopper, about an inch long, with distinctive spots and red hind wings. The officer followed his training and called it in. “He gave us a chance,” says Sven-Erik Spichiger, entomology program manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
It was a spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), a sap-sucking insect native to Asia. Just more than a month after this first report, Pennsylvania issued a quarantine in select counties in an attempt to restrict the spotted lanternfly’s movement. “From our perspective, this pest is quite frankly terrible,” says Spichiger.
In the summer of 2017, Spichiger visited a property where one or two spotted lanternflies had been seen, but the owner had recently reported there was no real infestation. That situation had changed rapidly. “I deal with all kinds of invasive pests throughout the state—that’s my job—and I have to be honest I was awestruck when I visited the site. I haven’t seen anything quite like that before. The only thing I can liken this to is a massive mayfly hatch off the river. It’s that uncomfortable to be standing around,” says Spichiger. “This pest has such a tremendous potential to breed and increase its population size that it can overwhelm individual properties and entire communities almost overnight.”
If Spichiger sounds alarmed, it’s because there is a lot at stake. The spotted lanternfly may have a preferred host—Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)—but it will also feed more than 70 other plant species, including grapes, hops, and fruit trees. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: “This pest poses a significant threat to the state’s more than $28 million grape, $87 million apple, and more than $19 million peach industries, as well as the hardwood industry in Pennsylvania, which accounts for nearly $17 billion in sales.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture agrees. In February 2018, it announced it was committing $17.5 million in emergency funding to stop the spread of the spotted lanternfly in southeastern Pennsylvania. This was after spotted lanternflies were reported in New York and Delaware in the fall of 2017 as well as Virginia in January of 2018. The new funding will allow the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, to expand surveillance and control programs in an effort to stop the spread of spotted lanternfly and reduce its population in the core infested areas in Pennsylvania.
These adult spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) were filmed on grapes in the summer of 2017. At around the 13-second mark, one of the insects in the upper left can be seen repeatedly excreting a stream of honeydew. The large amounts of honeydew secreted by spotted lanternflies leads to growth of sooty mold, which can severely damage the host plant. (Video via Erica Smyers, Penn State Entomology Department)
Like other leafhoppers, the lanternfly feeds on plant sap, which damages the plant, but greater harm comes as a result of the honeydew that the insect excretes in abundance. This sweet, sticky fluid promotes the growth of sooty mold, which is extremely damaging to fruit crops. Thankfully, effective control measures exist for the spotted lanternfly, but most alarming about the pest is its potential as a hitchhiker.
Adult lanternflies can fly, but it may be the least mobile of their life history stages—their egg masses—that has the greatest potential for long-distance travel. Spotted lanternfly egg masses are inconspicuous, and females will lay them on virtually any surface: trees, lumber, yard furniture, vehicles. Combine that with the fact that their preferred host plant, ailanthus, is an invasive itself that tends to grow in disturbed areas such as around parking lots or along highways and railroad tracks. Ailanthus is already growing in 44 states. Female Spotted lanternflies that are ready to lay eggs tend to be lazy, dropping onto the nearest convenient surface and depositing roughly 30 to 50 eggs.
Spichiger envisions a coal car stopped on an ailanthus-lined railroad track or an out-of-town pickup truck parked next to an ailanthus at a football stadium. A gravid female lanternfly drops down, deposits her eggs, and soon they are driven away to the next county or across the country.
Containing and eradicating the spotted lanternfly will require awareness, not just among the agriculture and entomology communities but also among homeowners, outdoorspeople, and others. The Pennsylvania Game Commission officer that called in the first report of this pest gave pest control authorities critical time to mobilize against the spotted lanternfly, and more keen eyes will be needed.
Special thanks to Leigh Greenwood, outreach program manager, “Don’t Move Firewood” campaign, The Nature Conservancy; Sven-Erik Spichiger, entomology program manager, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; and Julie Urban, Ph.D., senior research associate, Penn State Department of Entomology.