Growings On: Long drought still hurting state’s forests
Severe drought leads to loss of root tissue.
Permanent loss of leaves and roots greatly reduce the tree’s ability to recover, even when moisture is restored.
Dead and dying trees provide ideal habitat for Ips engraver beetles.
Immediate damage from this drought is evidenced by dying tree tops, brown leaves and dropping needles.
Long-term damage to root systems is likely.
During the next two to three years, both hardwoods and pines will die due to root damage suffered during this drought.
In the initial Ips outbreak report on Nov. 22, 2016, it was stated that sound management practices such as thinning are normally key to maintaining stand vigor and health in the prevention of bark beetle infestations.
However, the Georgia Forestry Commission recommends that with abnormal drought conditions and a greater amount of stressed trees observed, normal stand management practices should be reconsidered.
Time will be required for forest stands to recover to a healthy and vigorous condition, capable of withstanding natural and human-caused stresses.
Landowners managing forested property are encouraged to work with a professional forester, monitor stands for insects and disease, determine soil moisture and overall stand conditions, and minimize additional stress factors.