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Very few property boundaries in our part of the world are lacking of any trees. Many times woodlands comprise a significant amount of the acreage of our fields and farms. That said, very few people actually know how to manage their timber to optimize its value to the landowner. 

In response to these facts, our next farm management meeting will focus on the basics of woodland ownership. We will be holding this meeting at the Smyth County Farm Bureau Building, 354 South Main Street, Marion, on Monday, Feb. 17, at 6 p.m.

Bill Worrell, extension forestry agent for the SW District, will be conducting our program, and, as always, we will be enjoying a steak dinner with all the fixings for $15 per person. As always, we do ask that you help us plan our meal by calling the office at 276-783-5175 and let us know how many will be in your party.

While Bill will be speaking on the general management of woodlands, one issue that many of us are seeing is the death of our ash trees due to the emerald ash borer. Emerald ash borer (EAB) is found in all regions of Virginia. Some areas have established populations with a high level of ash tree mortality and other areas are seeing it for the first time. With a wider spread of infestation, many forest landowners are seeking methods to protect their ash trees.

As with many problems, the best treatment is to prevent the EAB from attacking your trees in the first place. Non-infested ash trees can be treated to avoid infestation. Since most counties are already infested, it is suggested that if you have a non-infested ash tree that you wish to save, don’t wait for signs of damage. Once trees are heavily infested and displaying more than 30 percent crown dieback, insecticides have limited impact and control may not be successful. Treat individual trees with a systemic insecticide in mid to late spring after trees have leafed out, applying as a soil drench, basal bark spray, or an injection at the base of the tree.

Systemics need to be applied April through June when active uptake from the roots is occurring. It is strongly encouraged that this treatment is applied before the trees show signs of infestation. Contact insecticides used for branch and trunk sprays need to be applied in early May and early June. Always refer to the label for the specific pesticide product being used.

The VDOF offers a cost-share program that provides financial assistance for landowners to treat healthy specimen ash trees. This cost-share program will reimburse landowners up to 50 percent of the cost of treatment in 2020 and 2021 for injection treatment only. Contact your local VDOF area forester for more information and learn more about the program at https://arcg.is/P945r. You can also contact a certified arborist for advice and assistance in tree treatment and removal at https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist.

Once trees are heavily infested and displaying more than 30 percent crown dieback, insecticides have limited impact and control may not be successful. Tree removal becomes the best option. The entire state of Virginia is quarantined; therefore, it is not illegal to leave an ash tree in place after it dies, but it can become a hazardous tree as limbs or the entire tree may fall and endanger humans and property. It is best to remove and destroy infested ash trees on site. Landowners with large stands of ash should contact a forester for possible sale of the logs, but this should be done before the trees become heavily infested and lose their timber value. Homeowners with limited numbers of trees should contact an arborist or tree service company for safe removal of the tree.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 12-13-- Virginia State Feed Association Meeting, Roanoke. Please contact Mr. Bob Threewitts at 540- 908-7767, email: vsfa@hotmail.com, or Dr. Gonzalo Ferreira at 540-231-1965, email: gonf@vt.edu

Feb. 12-15--National Farm Machinery Show, Louisville, Kentucky.

Feb. 13—Abingdon Feeder Cattle Association Annual Meeting, Washington County Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 21--Deadline to consign calves to the March 25 VQA Calf Sale.

Feb. 22--Women In Ag Conference, Lebanon.

March 25--VQA Calf Sale, Tri State Market, Abingdon, 7 p.m.

March 28--VA BCIA Bull Sale, Wytheville.

March 30--VQA Steer Take-Up, Tri State Livestock Market.

April 1--VQA Heifer Take-Up, Tri State Livestock Market.

April 24--Watershed Field Day for 6th Graders, Chilhowie High School.

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Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

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