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    Sawyer Beetles and Pine Wilt Disease

    A sample came in from a recently felled Scotch pine tree down in Southeastern South Dakota. The hole and sawdust is due to a sawyer beetle that had infested the tree. We are seeing an increase in pine wilt in the Southeastern part of the state with numerous reports of Austrian and Scotch pines turning brown and dying within last summer. Many of these trees, which appeared healthy and green last spring, are dead this autumn and are covered with brown to gray needles hanging from the twigs. Pine wilt is a disease caused by a nematode (and possibly an associated bacteria).

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    Tree Species Common to the Black Hills - Ponderosa Pine

    The Black Hills region has been described as an island of trees in a sea of grass.  The forest is unique due to its location and elevation and is home to at least 12 major species of trees.  The most common trees, ponderosa pine, Black Hills spruce, quaking aspen, paper birch, bur oak and green ash are covered here. Ponderosa pine is the most abundant pine in our region with almost one million acres of ponderosa pine in the Black Hills and scattered forests to the north, south and east.

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    Living Christmas Tree Alternatives

    Living Christmas trees are not a new concept. Often this means buying a potted or balled and burlaped, normally hardy tree, from a local nursery, then bringing it into the home, right before Christmas to enjoy for a week or so before planting it out in the landscape. Of course there is usually a problem with that game plan because usually by the end of December the ground has already frozen here in the northern Great Plains.

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    Choosing the Perfect Christmas Tree

    Christmas tree lots are already beginning to spring up around the state and Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas tree season, with more than 30 million trees being sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Another 50 million homes use artificial trees either for convenience or environmental concerns. However, the traditional Christmas tree can be the environmental friendly way to celebrate the holidays.

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    Campfire Safety in Drought Conditions

    Recently, fire authorities in California announced that a large wildfire in their state was sparked by an illegal campfire that, although contained in a fire pit, was not completely extinguished. When drought conditions exist, as they currently do in many areas of western South Dakota, this simple act can result in catastrophic damage to land, wildlife, structures and human lives.

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    Trees and Drought

    A dry summer is not only stressful for people, pets and livestock, but for our trees and other vegetation. Trees require a lot of water to meet their functional needs and long-term shortages can influence growth and survival. Trees signal their water deficit through a number of symptoms. The most common changes in appearance are lighter green to yellow-green foliage, leaf scorch around the margins, wilting leaves and dropping them prematurely.

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    How to Remove a Stump

    Spring is the time of the year when people get around to remove trees from their yard. Removing trees and disposing of the brush is a hazardous undertaking and is best performed by professionals who have the training and equipment to safely remove them. However, whether a professional tree service or the homeowner remove the tree, there is usually the question what to do about the stump.

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    Woody Weeds: Eastern Red Cedar

    While eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) is native to South Dakota, and has many positive qualities, it has become a problem species over large areas of the Great Plains. Even so, eastern redcedar remains one of the more important windbreak species, and is still widely planted. Several cultivars of this species are also popular ornamentals. The cones are eaten by a number of wildlife species (cedar waxwings, pheasants, turkeys, rabbits, and others), and it provides dense cover for a number of others.

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    Woody Weeds: Tatarian Honeysuckle

    Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) was brought to North America from Asia in the mid-18th century for ornamental uses. In South Dakota it was also used as a windbreak species until the 1980s. At that time severe damage from the Russian aphid (Hyadaphis tataricae) rendered Tatarian honeysuckle undesirable for both windbreak and ornamental plantings. The aphid feeding causes the plant to develop masses of small, thin shoots, known as witches brooms, that are unsightly and detract from the natural growth habit of the plant.

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    Common Ash Borers, Bark Beetles, and More

    Green ash is still one of the most commonly planted trees in South Dakota, and considering the number of trees in windbreaks, along urban streets, and in yards already, it is a surprise anyone would think we need more. In addition to the numerous pest problems we already have with this tree, the looming threat of emerald ash borer should make us a little more cautious about wholesale recommending the use of this tree.

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    Is This Cold Going to Harm the Trees?

    Is this cold going to harm the trees? This is a common question when the mid-winter temperatures start to approach or dip below the -10°F mark (something we did not see last year). Much of the state has experienced temperatures in the -1° to -10°F range during January, and while these temperatures are hard on people, livestock, and cars, they are not a problem for most of our trees and shrubs.

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    Rabbits Are Out In Force!

    Rabbits are out in force! You may have noticed the bark missing from the lower trunks of young trees. When I walked through several shelterbelts last week, every tree and shrub was cut off at about 1 foot as cleanly as if someone came by with a pair of hand pruners. Rabbits can chew bark off larger trees up to a height of 18-to-20 inches above the snow line (under the snow line the chewing is usually done by voles or mice) and the damage is most common to trees such as crabapples, apples, honeylocust, and maples. Shrub damage is usually entire twigs or stems cut cleanly at a 45-degree angle. You’ll often find small brown droppings on the snow near these plants.

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    Tree Species Common to the Black Hills - Ponderosa Pine

    The Black Hills region has been described as an island of trees in a sea of grass.  The forest is unique due to its location and elevation and is home to at least 12 major species of trees.  The most common trees, ponderosa pine, Black Hills spruce, quaking aspen, paper birch, bur oak and green ash are covered here. Ponderosa pine is the most abundant pine in our region with almost one million acres of ponderosa pine in the Black Hills and scattered forests to the north, south and east.

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