Newspaper Page Text
820-Lancast*r Fanning, Saturday, March 5, 1994
WASHINGTON, D.C. An
immigrant beeJe with a taste for
Scotch pine has taken the joy out
of the holidays for many Christ
mas tree growers and eventually
may threaten all of North Ameri
ca’s pine forests.
Christmas tree buyers aren’t
expected to see higher prices or
tree shortages this year, according
to industry spokesmen.
But the U.S. Agriculture
Department estimates that the pine
shoot beetle will cost American
businesses and taxpayers nearly
$9OO million over the next 30
years in damage to tree crops,
landscape trees and standing
“No question, it will do very,
very well in North America,” said
Robert Haack, an entomologist
with the U.S. Forest Service. “We
could build up some large num
bers quite rapidly. The beetle has
the potential to do a lot of damage
The Christmas tree business
could greatly speed the process.
The seasonal movement of more
than 35 million freshly cut trees
Names Board Officers
LEWISBURG (Union Co.)
During the first meeting of the
new board of directors of North
eastern Farm Credit recently,
Robert H. Whipple of Towanda
was elected as the new board
The new vice chairman will be
Donald G. Comer, Jr. of Danville.
The other board members include
Dennis Spangler, New Berlin;
Dale R. Hoffman, Shinglehouse;
Thomas M. McCarty, Sugar Run;
Lee A. Shaffer, Selinsgrove;
Richard B. Crawford, Port Royal;
Carroll E. Doan, Knoxville; Har
old A. Holt, Middleburg; Richard
Kriebel, Benton; Douglas W.
Lawton, Wellsboro; Alfred B.
Munro, Jersey Shore; and Robert
G. Naylor, Factoryville.
The board consists of 12 direc
tors elected by the membership
and one “outside” director elected
by the board for a total of 13 board
members. The membership is
defined as the customers of Farm
Credit eligible, voting stock
holders who use the credit ser
vices of the Farm Credit coopera
tive. The board of directors is
Christmas Tree Beetle Hits North America
could spread the pest all over the
continent. And stumps left after
the harvest provide ideal breeding
That’s the reasoning behind the
quarantines established last year
in the United States and Canada
that prohibit shipment of infected
trees outside the county where
they were grown.
Quarantines of farms have been
extended to twice as many coun
ties as last year in the two coun
tries, but foresters say this will
only slow, not stop, the beetle’s
inevitable spread to natural
Six states New York, Pen
nsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois
and Michigan and Canada’s
Ontario Province have quaran
tines this year.
Standards are strict. Agricultur
al inspectors in both countries
check each Christmas tree grove
in November, just before harvest.
Every tree is inspected for any
sign of the beetle. All trees from
an infected grove are restricted.
“One beetle can literally shut
you down,” said Gary Reissen,
made up of the farmers who are
active members of the coopera
tive. The 13th board member is
called an “outside” director
because by law this person cannot
be a borrower with the
owner of a 1,700-acre Christmas
tree farm in Greenville. Mich.
The shiny, dark, cylindrical
insect, no larger than a match
head, is a recent invader from Eur
ope and Asia. It has swept through
Christmas tree farms around the
Great Lakes since it was discov
ered last year in Ohio.
Preliminary studies show that it
will thrive on any of North Ameri
ca’s 35 pine species, although it
prefers the Scotch pine, the favo
rite Christmas tree, which is plen
tiful on tree farms and in forests.
Pine shoot beetles weaken trees
in several ways. New shoots die
shortly after a single beetle enters
to feed on the soft pulp inside.
Heavily infested trees lose shape
and eventually become suscepti
ble to deadlier diseases. Long
term infestations in Europe have
reduced the size of pines by as
much as 40 percent
The beetle has been a problem
for decades throughout European
and Asian forests, where timber
ing is regulated to keep the pest in
No one knows how the insect
entered North America. Some sci
entists believe it came in on lum
ber used to brace cargo shipped to
Great Lakes ports.
Hasty research, begun last year
by the Forest Service after the bee
tle was discovered, suggests that
the insect eventually will have a
heyday in North America.
Nobody can predict how fast it
will spread. Scientists are study
ing possible ways to control it and
JONES-DAIRY W and J PRINGLE K&K McNEAL FARM
SERVICE DAIRY SALES AUTOMATION FEED STORE AGRI SERVICE SERVICE
Medford, NJ Oxford, PA Hagerstown, MD Greenville, PA Carlisle. PA Towanda. PA
609-267-0198 717-529-2569 301-416-7340 412-588-7950 717-249-1195 717-364-5460
hope to make recommendations
Meanwhile, the beetle will find
plenty to eat almost anywhere on
the continent. The insect has no
natural enemies in this part of the
world. Entomologists predict and
fear that it will spread as far north
as Alaska and as far south as
It is likely to benefit from the
North American practice of
harvesting timber year-round.
In natural conditions, pine
shoot beetle infestations spread
slowly, allowing biological con
trols mainly small wasps to
develop. The beetle travels only
short distances and breeds just
once a year. New colonies start
only in freshly opened wood, such
as storm-damaged branches,
lightning-fractured trunks and
Gary Reissen is one of the
Christmas tree growers who con
siders himself lucky this year. He
carefully pruned each tree
throughout the growing season,
eliminating any shoot that showed
the tiniest sign of a beetle among
his 170,000 harvest-ready trees.
“It was a lot of work,” he says,
“but consider the alternative. It’s
not just a one-year type of thing. If
all of a sudden you can’t rill an
order, do you think they’ll order
from you again next year? I don’t
As it turned out, only 1 percent
of Reissen’s stock, in one field,
was infested. Some of his friends
in the business didn’t fare so well.
Reissen and other growers wor
ry more about the quarantines than
about the pine shoot beetle itself.
Most Christmas trees are cut
before beetles can damage them
aesthetically.' Quarantines cost
growers money in trees they’re
forbidden to sell.
The growers support quaran
tines as a courtesy to their sister
industries, whose trees are older
and therefore more subject to
deformity or death.
‘This little beetle is a much big
ger threat to the timber and
nursery industries,” said Joan Gei
ger, executive director of the
Christmas Tree Association.
“We’re just trying to help control
The biggest fear among Christ
mas tree growers is losing custom
ers, who mistakenly may assume
that the beetle is a threat to them
selves or their homes and
switch to an artificial tree.
Already, artificial trees are almost
as popular as natural ones.
“You’re not going to get sick. It
can’t eat your house,” Geiger said.
“We just hope it doesn’t destroy
No one knows what becomes of
dormant beetles in Christmas
trees. “We don’t know whether
they die from the heat, drown in
the stand or survive to infest other
trees,” says Robert Haack.
To find out, he and a team of
Michigan technicians are to moni
tor 12 infested Christmas trees
during the coming holidays.