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Author Topic: Managing white pine weevil  (Read 685 times)

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Offline wisconsitom

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Managing white pine weevil
« on: January 22, 2019, 03:02:09 PM »
Folks,

All over the northeastern quadrant of the country, whether in Green Bay, WI, Grand Rapids, MI, or Go To Hell, Anywhere In Region, it makes perfect sense to install plantings where white pine and Norway spruce are near each other.  Two big, vigorous species, closely-related, they will grow up well together and become giants together.  But when a real smart guy (me!) decided to plant thousands of these two (along with other tree types) right next to each other in white pine country, the table was set for an invasion of white pine weevil  The insect loves fat terminal buds and my Norway spruce supply that in abundance.  I soon enough learned that I was growing a bunch of pine and spruce with forked tops.  Simply not acceptable.  After a bit of research and consultation with our state's excellent DNR Forest Health Specialist, I have a strategy that I am quite certain is going to work.  And by work, I mean that we will not have pine and spruce with forked tops.  Here's what I'm doing:

  • During dormant months-right now-I'm going thru my rows with pole pruner, loppers, and pole saw.  Each tool depending on height, the pole saw not really getting used.  I am "re-leadering" the previously-attacked pine and spruce, such that they will be in good shape to resume normal, single-leadered growth this spring.  But....
  • Were it not for step 3, all would be for naught.  The female weevil would simply re-attack these leaders and subsequent new growth would be affected.  No advantage yet.
  • So some time, probably in April (In my area, your mileage may vary), I will be applying a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide to just these growing tips.  The material I will be using is called Bisect.  A spreader/sticker is also in the tank, and really keeps the poison around long enough to get at these female weevils and any offspring.  I am having to do all trees from roughly chest-height (a little smaller, actually) to about fifteen feet in height.  Then the insect lays off.

I began this process last spring, about a week after 24 inches of snow fell in that area.  Because of rapid melt, I was standing between rows of big Norway spruce on glare ice-no sun gets between those trees, with a backpack sprayer on my back, in some cases spraying far up over my head.  I now have a dedicated set of really crappy clothes that are "spraying clothes".  But bottom line....after just the one app last year, we saw reduced weevil pressure.  I bet I'm going to knock a big hole in their numbers this year.  As my various age classes size up, this work will ramp up for a few years, then go away forever.  I urge anyone wishing to still grow Norway spruce ( a simply great tree in the north) in white pine country to use this info.  It really does appear to be working.  And not a lot of material is being applied, just a bit at each growing tip, the numbers of which I've reduced thru my pruning.

tom

Offline Tarm

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2019, 08:19:57 PM »
Yes, that would probably work but for white pine a simpler answer is just to grow them under a 50% canopy or so.

Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2019, 08:17:12 AM »
Tarm,

Hardly "simpler" given this was afforestation, the planting of what had been an agricultural field.  The only "shade" for these young white pines was the "weed layer", which in year one following planting (Roundup-Ready corn had been in place prior summer) was a solid mass of ragweed, and which in year two converted to zero ragweed and 100% perennial forbs like New England aster and Canada goldenrod.  Now, the trees are above this layer, off and running.  But I had no opportunity to do as you describe.

Right adjacent to my plantation is my woods, which does indeed contain numerous white pine.  I like to say my woods is "racist", only containing white pine, white birch (paper birch) and white-cedar!  Of course, that's only if I ignore the many balsam poplar, trembling aspen, black ash, sugar maple, tamarack, lol.

The white pine in that woods and surrounding area are the original source of the weevil population.

tom

Offline Tarm

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2019, 11:03:43 AM »
I hope it works for you. Twenty years ago I planted a two acre white pine plantation in full sun on the site of a balsam fir clearcut. It has been a catastrophic failure. Over 99% of the trees have been weeviled, most of them being hit multiple times. That experience has led me to only planting white pine under existing high shade. Let all of us know on the Forestry Forum the results of your efforts, that might be something I would like to try.  

Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2019, 12:29:01 PM »
Sure will Tarm.  But if you read my message carefully, you will see a story where the weevil pressure has dropped markedly on my property after just one year of treatment.  I am as sure as I can be that we will beat the bug....and have nice white pines and Norway spruce growing side by side all over that acreage. Keep in mind too.....you are only worried for roughly the given trees' first 3 meters (15 ft.) of height increment.  The female weevil does not fly higher than that to lay eggs.  So you simply are not stuck with this problem forever.

All that said, had I been just a bit more observant, back when land was purchased, I could have seen the signs of white pine weevil all over that country.  Many, many wh. pines in roadside groves, youngish trees, all distorted, looking like bushes.  I should have known.

  But being a guy who can work very hard, one who has extensive horticultural knowledge, and one who has done much pesticide application in his working life.....I may be just a bit better prepared than the average hobby forester/landowner to manage the situation.

Where ya at Tarm?  We might be neighbors.  My plantation/woods is in central Oconto County, near Suring.

tom

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 07:00:47 PM »
Yes, that would probably work but for white pine a simpler answer is just to grow them under a 50% canopy or so.
That's the best and cheapest approach to straight white pine. Except the trouble  for us up here in New Brunswick we have rust real bad, so pruning is also needed as soon as possible so there is no lower live limbs for the rust to hit the needles and grow to the stem. This has draw backs in that it reduces that wood factory, less leaves less growth. And thirdly we have a lot of pine damaging moose around here. Bull moose rip them up. :D White pine is a hard case in these parts. ;) I've interplanted 3500 white pine in the woodlot, many killed by rust most of the others destroyed by moose. Might have 4 or 5 untouched. Better than nothing I guess. :D But the last coule of years I do see a glimmer of hope, they have increased the moose tags in the annual draw around here. I mean when ya got herds, someone has to get eating. :D


3 more out of frame in the photo.

Move'n on.

Offline Clark

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2019, 10:00:58 PM »
Wisconsitom - I wish you luck and hope this works well. Of course, we need some pictures!

It will be interesting to see how this works out. Ive never heard of anyone applying an insecticide for weevils but it doesnt surprise me that it is out there. Would this work in an aerial application? 

I agree with Tarm that high shade is best for white pine. I would go a step further and promote seeding of white pine under a broken canopy as the best way to regenerate white pine. We can avoid many of the problems swampdonk mentions. But I digress, you have an interesting project and I look forward to hearing about it in the future.

Clark
SAF Certified Forester

Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2019, 08:21:43 AM »
Thanks Clark.  In this insecticide application, one is only applying to the growing tips.  In an undamaged pine, that would be one spot-the tip of the main, central leader.  On previously-attacked pine and N. spruce, there will already be multiple "leaders", such that one will be applying the product to all of these tips....anything that looks like a competing leader.  Surely you have seen this-whether insect-attacked or where for any other cause, the top has been taken out of a pine-family member, it will readily produce new, multiple competing leaders.

So what I'm doing to gain efficiency is going down my rows now, pre-application, and reducing all of these pre-attacked trees back to one main leader.  Now if you've ever done this kind of work, you will note that some degree of decision-making is involved.  Sure, there's the pine or spruce with one obvious new leader taking over.  But then there are the basket-cases, trees that got attacked repeatedly for a few years (where was  I?  lol) and which require some sense of which stem to select, to be left behind.  This is really easy work to me, but then, I was an arborist for decades.

I don't believe it would be feasible to do an aerial application.  Massive over-spray.  Remember-I'm applying like one squirt to that terminal bud area.  True, the fifteen-footers that I'm still needing to protect, I have to just spray up with a stream and soak the top area of the tree-much less precision than the head-height trees.  But it already has seemed to work very well, again after just last spring's treatment.  I'm pretty sure that when I go through the whole of my wh. pine/N. spruce area once again this spring, I will be knocking back the adult and juvenile weevil population greatly.  We seek to control, not eradicate.  Further, unlike so many of our worst forest pests, at least with wh. pine weevil, it is a part of the native fauna of the region.

tom

Offline Tarm

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2019, 11:27:29 AM »
In 2005 when my white pines were starting to show weevil damage I inquired from the forestry profession if insecticide treatment could be helpful. I was told that:
A. The most effective long lasting insecticides had been removed from the market by the federal government.
B. Insecticides only worked on the adult weevil.
C. Adult weevils were only on the pine terminals for a short period of time.
D. That period varied from year to year depending on the weather. Spray to early and the insecticide would wash off in the rain before the adults arrived. Spray to late the the larval eggs would already have been laid and the insecticide would be ineffective.
I was told that snipping off the infected leaders in late June and destroying them would be more effective. I did that for ten years but it was unsuccessful in controlling the weevil.
So my question to you wisconsitom is "What has changed?" "How long has this been an option?" "Have new insecticides and/or additives been developed that prolong their effectiveness?"

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2019, 11:44:29 AM »
I suspect it will be for not.

But how did we grow straight stemmed white pine before the shipping trade began harvesting them. ;D I suspect like many harvesting practices, they high graded the growing stock. I mean there are 200 year old white pine left standing that have 2-6 tops and I mean a lot of them left behind. ;)
Move'n on.

Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2019, 12:38:13 PM »
At the beginning of my initial post, I mentioned that I am using a synthetic pyrethroid called Bisect.  In addition, added to the spray tank is precisely one squirt of "spreader/sticker".  These items have been around for decades, not new technology.  Bisect itself may be fairly new....like just 20 years old at this point.  Pesticide development/registration is a slow process.  The items we're using today got checked out long ago.

So, to recap...Bisect insecticide, with a spreader/sticker, the name of which I forget just now, but which consists of lecithin.  Then, with reasonable care to timing, the material will easily still be around when mother weevil goes up to tree top to lay her eggs.

Swamp, maybe you're just looking at weevil-damaged stuff, and that is the very reason it got left behind.  I see evidence in my woods-not my plantation-of past damage from this insect.  I guess that's what  you're saying too, but your apparent grim prognosis of my work, will in time I think be proven utterly incorrect.  You do realize...don't you...that mother weevil loses interest once trees are right around that 3-meter height?

tom

PS.....Wisconsin (and nearby) guys...learn of and introduce yourself to Crop Production Services and in particular, a guy named Rick Schulte.  Rick's just a genius in all matters pest control.  And I do mean ALL matters, including forestry-related concerns.  I see widespread mistrust of my own words here.  So call someone else, get exactly the same recommendation as I've outlined here...and then maybe believe it!  CPS is in DeForest, WI.

tom

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2019, 03:58:37 PM »
Swamp, maybe you're just looking at weevil-damaged stuff, and that is the very reason it got left behind.  I see evidence in my woods-not my plantation-of past damage from this insect.  I guess that's what  you're saying too, but your apparent grim prognosis of my work, will in time I think be proven utterly incorrect.  You do realize...don't you...that mother weevil loses interest once trees are right around that 3-meter height?
Yep, left the deformed weevilled trees. Not a lot of white pine locally, but what few there are are crooked multi-topped ones. There are areas of nice pine, but are typically not too close to home, so to speak.
Actually, weevils attack as high as 8 meters (close to 26 feet) up. You going to prune that high? or spray with a wand that high? There is a local field with white pine, we call the cabbage patch. My, the weevils are having fun. I had a photo once online here, but it may have been lost some years back when we had something go wrong on the forum.
You can band the trees with a sticky tape or a tape with a sticky substance applied onto it, not on the tree. Weevils climb up in spring from their winter home and weevils can live for years. Many fly of course, but the stuck ones ain't going nowhere.
Personally, I prefer inter-planting the pine and not in plantations. Some say pine plantations should be planted thick, but that never worked here. It also helped increase rust is all. We planted a few pine sites over the years on private. I've been in silviculture a number of years and worked for a local woodlot organization for a number of them. We were always getting recommendations from government or they would have criteria for this or that to follow to get silviculture funding. For a few years mills were planting one pine in 1000 in their spruce plantations. Not sure if that still is the case, but one mill recently wants pine cut out. Even in natural sites when we do pre-commercial thinning with clearing saws. Never going to make a clear log in the majority of them, so a red or black spruce might as well be standing there. I would simply plant them among shade intolerant hardwoods like aspen, birch and willow that cast some shade over them. Pine do tolerate 50% shade for a few years. And plant on the best sites, not wet ground. Space the pine at pole stage (30-40 feet), as they get more intolerant to shade by then. Now if we didn't have that rust problem up here the white pine can have a better chance. :)
Here is a weevilled Norway spruce that was pruned after infestation and doesn't show a crooked main stem now. The frame is showing where it was attacked. It's the only one on my land. I imagine it was in one of the trays of black or white spruce we planted. You can see a weevil hole.
The attack was 4 meters up. I pruned it from a ladder.




About 6 m tall.

Good luck with your venture, better than doing nothing since it is your land. :)
Move'n on.

Offline Tasha

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2019, 04:20:32 PM »
Reading this thread I started to worry if i might have an issue with the weevil but was glad to see that in my area the western white pine is not susceptible but that the spruces are.  This is the exact reason I abandoned my plan to plant the Sitka Spruce 10 years ago.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2019, 04:46:41 PM »
Yes, and they don't seem to bother our native eastern red, or black spruces but can hit white spruce. I've never seen white spruce damaged in plantations to any significant degree. Usually a saw fly does some damage or budworm outbreaks or other bugs.

A good friend of mine is an entomologist who has worked with bugs for 20 years, here in New Brunswick, Virginia, Idaho and Ontario. Works at the Canadian Forest Service now out of Fredericton.
Move'n on.

Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2019, 09:12:26 PM »
Swamp, I erred, and meant to say 5 meters...but if you're saying 6, I believe it.  But yes, with a long pole pruner...and a sprayer tip that can be adjusted for steady stream...which will reach, that's exactly what I'm doing.  I'm already rounding the bend on my oldest, largest spruce.  They're right around that 18-20 ft. mark.  It is a numerically-larger cohort of trees that are roughly head-height now, that will require a bit more of this work in coming years.  But heck, the pruning is all winter work and the spraying is just about the earliest horticultural task one might perform "in the growing season", so not getting in the way of anything.

This brings up a good point, that at just 18 acres, I'm tiny.  I don't think it would be quite so feasible a system as scale gets larger.  

White spruce can occasionally develop a pretty fat terminal bud.  That's what the female weevil is looking for on that warm day in spring.  Norway spruce, of course, nearly always exhibits this feature.

Larix x marschlinsii planted at the same time as those 18-ft. spruce are 35 ft. tall.

tom

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2019, 03:11:42 AM »
Swamp, I erred, and meant to say 5 meters...but if you're saying 6, I believe it. 
Yes, they hit this one at 4m, the tree photo after (bottom) was around 6m tall and healed up. But they attack up to 8 m and up to 40 year old trees, which they say varies by region from what the Forest Service guys say. So might very well be 5m and younger trees out your way. That's the way statistics works, never a magic number to fit all the data. :D
Move'n on.

Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Managing white pine weevil
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2019, 08:02:31 AM »
The good news is that each treatment severely knocks down their numbers.  So real progress is being made.

Thanks,
tom


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