Category Archives: Forestry

Look For Cogongrass Following Spring Burns

We looked at a new spot of cogongrass Monday which came just after burn. This is probably why the leaves appear lighter in color.UGA Extension Forester Dr. David Moorhead says this is typical cogongrass response to a spring burn. Two to three weeks following a burn is always a good time to look for cogongrass.

Off-center midrib is key ID feature of cogongrass


If you look at other blog posts I have on cogongrass, you will see a difference in this color. We thought this was actually Johnsongrass. Once we walked into the patch, we found some off-center midribs and sharp rhizomes. Those are the two, key ID features you want to look for. Cogongrass spreads by rhizomes, which is why you see it in this circular pattern.

When you rub down the blade, you’ll feel a ‘rough’ texture, like shark skin. Quail definitely do not like to move through this grass. It’s extremely invasive and will wipe out an ecosystem in your forest. This is huge for us in Thomas County where so much timber is managed for wildlife as well.

Sharp rhizomes are another key ID feature of cogongrass. A lot of times you can place your hand on the ground (softly) and feel the rhizomes poking up.


We actually want to be cautious about burning cogongrass since it can burns around 850 degrees F. Georgia Forestry Commision Forest Health Specilist Mark McClure says most timber on our plantations are widely spaced and damage from burning cogongrass is not a high risk. Mark says this is actually a good time to burn cogongrass and is a good idea to burn it if we see it. This is because fresh growth of cogongrass helps when treated.


We are very, very fortunate in Georgia to have help from the Georgia Forestry Commission on treating these spots at no charge. Mark McClure coordinates the Task Force of the Georgia Forestry Commission which treats reported cogongrass. If you see what looks like cogongrass, call the Georgia Forestry Commission or the Thomas County Extension Office (225-4130) to get a positive ID so it can be treated.

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Warm Weather & Prescribed Burning

Lots of woods are on fire across Thomas County. The sap is rising in the hardwood trees, and it’s time to get these under control. At the same time, it has been getting warmer and drier. We’ve been about 4 weeks without rain now. The temperature in the 80s has essentially put us ahead of our growing schedule. This can get hot on some of our pine trees. I talked with UGA Extension Forester Dr. David Moorhead yesterday, and he went over some good points to consider when burning at this time:

  • Fuel on the Ground – We really need to consider how dry we are, especially if you haven’t burned in a few years. If your managing timber alone and haven’t burned in a few years, you may have lots of rough build up on site. This can burn hot and scorcth trees. For these sites, it’ll be better to wait for a rain. Dr. Moorhead looked at a stand in one county where 100% of the trees were scorched. If you’re managing for quail, and burn every year, you won’t have as much litter on the ground. We’re safer in this scenario.
  • Natural Firebreaks – Check your natural firebreaks, like wetlands. Even these could be dry. I was with a farmer yesterday looking at corn, and he mentioned how many fields they’ve planted this year that normally would be too wet to plant right now.
  • Ips Beetles – Our beetle attacks have been worse this season because of the drought last year. These trees are under stress already. If you have a CURRENT beetle attack, Dr. Moorhead recommends to not burn. This will further stress those trees. This can affect our larger stands on plantations where thousands of acres are involved. How do you know if the beetle attack is current? If you see a group of dead tress (3-10) with pitch tubes on the bark, you need to think hard about burning. It is true that once symptoms of the attack show up, the Ips beetles are gone. But, if you are on a large track of land, the beetles maybe right around the corner. For more on Ips Engraver Beetles, look at this former blog post.
  • Worker Safety – When it is this hot and dry, worker safety is very important. Be careful not to get dehydrated. Working  conditions will be hotter, and fires too may move fast.
  • Burn Permits – Mostly certainly get your burn permit. Also, talk with the Georgia Forestry Commission. They can help with analyzing current conditions and determining if burning is safe now.

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Controlling Bamboo

bamboo-052Golden bamboo (phyllostachys aurea) and other nonnative bamboos are perennial grass-like plants. These are runner types of bamboo, that spread with thick, underground stems called rhizomes. Clumping bamboo species grow in large clumps and are much slower in spreading. These rhizomes can spread more than 100 feet from the mother plant.

We did not get a chance to stop by a site of bamboo at Pebble Hill for our Forestry & Wildlife meeting this year. But Dr. Moorhead did cover this topic during lunch. Here is a picture of the site we would have visited, and actually is probably 90% controlled.


When controlling these runner-types of bamboo, there needs to be some efforts to break up those rhizomes. In open area patches, you can use a tractor and disk to knock down and chop up the rhizome mat. Following this, we’ll still need to use herbicides. Dr. Moorhead recommends a soil active herbicide. Velpar L or Velpar DF is a good choice. This is made in the spring of the year. Use a site prep rate which will kill any trees with roots growing in the treated area. If pine are growing in the patch, use a release rate of Velpar noted on the herbicide label based on soil texture. If you cannot risk this kind of damage to the overstory trees, cut down the bamboo (crush it, burn, etc.), then treat the new shoots with 4% glyphosate (1 pint per 3 gallon mix)..

Here is an example of the rates of velpar from the UGA Pest Control Handbook. We need to be under “Coarse” texture on the far right: 2, 3 or 4 qt per acre for a release rate.


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More Bark Beetle Attacks?

With the persistence of this drought, we may see more bark beetle attacks. For the first time, I witnessed two Ips engraver attacks on the same property. The two attacks occurred four weeks apart. The scenario required for Ips attacks is not usually reoccurring. Because they attack only stressed trees, Ips usually leave the scene and are done. Could it be that stress from the drought is causing trees to release the stress pheromones that attracts the beetles?

Ips Engraver Beetle-UGA

Ips Engraver Beetle-UGA

There are a few species of beetles that cause problems in pine stands. The Southern Pine Beetle and Ips Engraver Beetle bore into trees and induce the blue stain fungus. This fungus clogs the vascular tissue of the tree and kills it. The difference in the two species is that Ips beetles rarely if ever attack a healthy tree. Pheromones (chemical signals) from a dying or distressed tree are picked up by Ips beetles. These are usually lightening struck trees. Once Ips beetles show up, they only attack a few trees and leave. Sometimes I see 3 trees in a stand killed and as many as 8 trees killed last week.


Other than a tree that suddenly dies,  the most common sign of an Ips attack is pitch tubes on the side of the tree. Once the adult beetle bore into the tree, the tree exudes sap to counter the beetle. The sap piles up and look like pieces of bubble gum attached to the tree. The center of the tube contains a hole through which the adult beetle enters the inner bark. If no hole is present in the pitch tube, the beetle attack was unsuccessful.

Boring dust and pitch from Ips attack

Boring dust and pitch from Ips attack

PitchTubes (2)

Holes in pitch tubes where adult beetles entered the tree

An addition to the presence of pitch tubes, the adults construct egg galleries in the inner bark. These galleries are in certain shapes. Ips usually follow the wood grain, and have a “Y”- or “H”-shaped gallery patterns. I took my knife and scratched some outside bark away to find a few galleries.

Egg galleries of Ips beetle attack

Egg galleries of Ips beetle attack


A common question is should we cut the trees down? Shortly  after the initial attack, needles at the crown turn yellow then brown. This happens quickly. Once we notice the trees are dead, the Ips beetles have already moved out. UGA Extension Forestry Specialist Dr. David Moorhead says in a pine stand, we actually do more damage cutting down a few dead trees than if they are left alone. The only time we would cut down trees is for 1) astetic reasons or 2) they pose a risk if fallen.

We can also use insecticides, but the issue is Ips attacks are difficult to predict and they enter the tree high up – you would have to cover the tree. The third beetle species is black turpentine beetles. They attack trees at the base and move about 5 feet high. However, their risk is minimal since they do no carry blue-stain fungus.

Cross section view of blue stain fungus

Cross section view of blue stain fungus

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Intermediate Paspalum


Here is a grass that looks very similar to cogongrass but is not. We originally looked at this exact spot in 2012 and thought it was cogongrass. One of our cogongrass experts is Mr. Mark McClure with the Georgia Forestry Commission. He quickly knew this was not cogongrass since the midrib IS centered, and it is a bunch-type grass WITHOUT rhizomes to spread.

This is intermediate paspalum. My leaf picture is not focused, but the difference is where the midrib sets. This perennial, bunch-type grass is now moving from the planted pines across the road and causing problems for our county road maintenance. In forestry situations, the only hope is to use a 4% glyphosate, and possibly mow before seeds head. Once nighttime temperatures drop to the mid-40s, not much herbicide is translocated within the plant. We can spot spray through the growing season, and also through fall is better.

Intermediate paspalum

Intermediate paspalum – centered midrib

Off-center midrib

Cogongrass – off-center midrib


Intermediate paspalum - seedhead

Intermediate paspalum – seedhead

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2016 Forestry & Wildlife Program Summary

It could not have  been a better day for our 3rd annual Forestry & Wildlife Program. If you were there for the first time, you would not know this program is only three years old. I am so indebted to everyone who works to bring this together – hay bales, trailers, tractors, barn, presenters, location and of course the food. Forester Alan Tucker sponsored this year’s meeting. Todd Milam with the Georgia Forestry Commission, Alan Tucker, and Martin Smith stayed up all night cooking our pig.

A big thanks to Pebble Hill Plantation for hosting the program this year. Our speakers were Mr. Luke Harvard (USDA – Wildlife), Dr. David Moorhead (UGA Extension Specialist), and Mr. Richard Coleman (NRCS). We had 55 people attend the meeting which represented 99,860 acres of forest land. Here are some pictures from Tuesday’s program:

Loading trailers

Loading trailers

UGA Extension Specialist Dr. David Moorhead discusses storm-damaged trees on a site at Pebble Hill Plantation.

UGA Extension Specialist Dr. David Moorhead discusses storm-damaged trees on a site at Pebble Hill Plantation.

Mr. Luke Harvard with USDA Wildlife Division discusses beaver management.

Mr. Luke Harvard with USDA Wildlife Division discusses beaver management.

The dam in the background has been damaged by beavers. Luke Harvard is working with Pebble Hill to help with the issue.

The dam in the background has been damaged by beavers. Luke Harvard is working with Pebble Hill to help with the issue.

Our pig for lunch inside the Sugar Hill Barn at Pebble Hill Plantation

Our pig for lunch inside the Sugar Hill Barn at Pebble Hill Plantation

Eating lunch following the program

Eating lunch following the program

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Evaluating Storm-Damaged Forest Areas


Following our tropical storm, many landowners saw damage to trees in forests. We asked Dr. Moorhead to discuss this with us at this year’s Forestry & Wildlife program. At our first stop, we looked at damaged longleaf, and Dr. Moorhead gave an overview of assessing this damage. This is an exert from the publication “How to Evaluate and Manage Storm-Damaged Forest Areas“.

Storms ultimately cause damage by uprooting, wounding, bending, and breaking trees. Standing water following a hurricane can cause additional stress on trees and kill them. It’s good to have a plan to manage damaged timber.

  • Step 1 – Sketch or get aerial photograph of area ASAP.
  • Step 2 – Ground check damage to determine the need for salvage. This depends on location, amount of salvage and management objectives.

Type of Damage


This is the most common form of damage. In pine trees, this lowers the value since breakage is random and trees are cut to specific links. Hardwood trees are seldom killed by breakage. Breakage also permits entry of stain and decay fungi.

Recommendations: For pines, if 3 live limbs or less remain, the trees should be harvest as quickly as practical. For hardwoods, trees with broken tops or branches over 3 inches in diameter should be salvaged during next scheduled harvest.

Twisted Trunks

Logs from trees that have this damage may fall apart when sawn for lumber. Those pines may have pitch flow along the truck, but appear normal.

Recommendations: Trees with evidence of twist injury should be removed, since the problem will not disappear with time.

Root Damage

Get them out! These have to be salvaged quickly since stains, decays, secondary insects (Ips, powderpost, and ambrosia beetles) will further hurt the tree. Root-sprung pines will not die quickly, but will eventually incur invasions from blue stain fungi and bark beetles.

Major Wounds

This can occur from falling tops, other uprooted trees, and branch breakage. Pine trees with major wounds to the lower bole and large roots may be attacked by bark beetles. In hardwoods, woulds that do not penetrate more than 2 inches deep (into sapwood) and have less than 144 sq inches of surface area will have only localized stain, but little decay.

Recommendations: Trees with major wounds should pretty much be removed during next schedule harvest, or included in salvage operation.

Bent Trees

This is much of what we observed at our program Tuesday. Pine trees bent to the extent that cracks and resin flow occurs could be invaded by bark beetles and disease-causing organisms. Hardwoods are not usually attacked by insects or disease.

Recommendations: Trees under 15 feet in height usually straighten. Taller, more bent hardwoods need to be removed during salvage or next scheduled harvest. Many large, green, standing trees may not be usable for veneer poles or lumber since internal ring shake, splintering and separation of the wood fibers. Many times, the only external evidence of this damage is pitch or sap flow were the injury has broken the bark. It’s easy to overlook these signs.


Below is a table of choices for storm-damaged trees.


Recommended Choices for Storm-Damaged Trees

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