Thousand Cankers disease enters region
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) has been confirmed in Haywood County in a portion of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park according to the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS). “The disease was found by researchers during surveys of the Park’s walnuts,” NCFS information states. “This is the first detection of TCD in North Carolina.”
The disease is caused by the fungus Geosmithia morbida and is spread by the walnut twig beetle. It was first detected east of the Mississsippi in Knox County (Tenn.) in 2010 according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
“This marks the first time the disease has been detected in the state, and by placing restrictions on a variety of plant material and wood products, we hope to keep the disease from spreading into other counties,” Steve Troxler, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner said in a statement. “Something as simple as moving firewood from an infected area to an uninfected county could increase the risk of spreading this disease.”
Darlene Whitetree, Cherokee Agency Superintendent, said no confirmed cases have been found on the Qualla Boundary. “We feel it will be here before long. It is caused by a tiny beetle which makes a small hole and causes a fungus just under the bark and results in the branches of the tree dying. There has been widespread death of black walnut trees in many western states during the past decade as a result of this disease.”
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has placed the following items on quarantine from Haywood County until further notice: walnut plants and plant parts including firewood, lumber, logs, stumps, roots, branches, and composted and uncomposted chips.
Brian Haines, N.C. Forest Service public information officer, related that TCD has been found at two sites in Haywood County. “Both sites are on land owned by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No other positive sites in North Carolina have been found. Surveys have been conducted for the past several years, but no positive trees were found at that time.”
TCD can kill a tree within two to three years. According to the NCFS, “When a beetle bores into the twig, the Geosmithia fungus causes a small, brownish-black canker to develop within the bark around the beetle’s entry hole. Branches and stems may be attacked by many beetles, resulting in a large number of these cankers that eventually overlap and girdle the tree.”
The NCFS relates that both black walnut and butternut are affected by the disease.
Glenn Taylor, a biologist with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, related that the disease was found in the Park, at sites nine air miles apart, as a result of a survey funded by Mississippi State University. “It is not found anywhere else in the Park.”
But, he did say that the Park plans to continue monitoring trees for the disease. “It takes a long time for the symptoms to show up, sometimes 10 years after being infested. It’s probably likely that it’s elsewhere.”