Category Archives: News

News about Kentucky Woodlands and their owners

What to Do with Seeds You Didn’t Order!


The July 28 Morning Ag Clips reports: “USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their state plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your state department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins.”
Here’s a link to the full story on what to do if you receive such a packet…

NPR’s August 2 Morning Edition spoke with Darci Portie of Iowa, La., who received the mystery seeds.

In an update since the interview, NPR reported that the USDA says some of the packages have seeds for mint, sage, hibiscus, roses and cabbages. But they still say do not plant them.

Read or listen to the interview…




White Oak Genetics and Tree Improvement Project Update

As of May 7, 24% of 17,000 acorns that were collected last fall from 91 parent trees across nine states had begun to emerge as new seedlings! White oak twigs (scions) collected from 21 of these sources representing 6 states were grafted onto bur oak and swamp white oak root stock to start a clone bank. The white oak seedlings will be outplanted into progeny tests to start phase 2 of the project. A large “master” progeny test in Kentucky, and many smaller, regional progeny tests spread throughout the geographic range of white oak will be established. For a complete update or to find out how you can assist and even become a part of this project go to…

How trees protect themselves from wounds, disease and pests (including us)

By Paul Hetzler (Naturalist) , in Val-des-Monts, QC

Jul 25, 2020

As someone whose job it is to help preserve trees, I find it ironic that in nearly every case I am saving them from us. We injure their root systems, whack them with mowers and weed-eaters, plant them too deeply, and do many other things which jeopardize their health. It would be terrifying if they could fight back in the manner of Tolkein’s magical Fangorn Forest. For one thing, tree work would be a lot more dangerous than it already is.

But trees are able to defend themselves against pests and diseases. They have both protective structures and protective processes, comparable in some ways to our immune systems. Thanks in large part to research done from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s by Dr. Alex Shigo of the US Forest Service, we know a great deal more about the way trees protect themselves than we did fifty years ago.

We have long known how, just as our skin keeps harmful bacteria on our outsides, bark acts as a shield against tree pathogens. Since they don’t have the luxury of mobility to avoid hazards, trees need thicker “skin” than we do. Layers of living and non-living tissues protect tree trunks, roots and branches from mechanical injury, drying out, as well as from diseases.

But when something breaches this first line of defense – tears through the bark – what happens inside the wood is fascinating. When an injury occurs, a tree will convert some of its stored sugars to make an array of defensive chemicals. It then distributes and deposits these compounds in a specific pattern internally around the wound. Dr. Shigo was the first to document this pattern, which he called CODIT – compartmentalization of decay in trees.

In making these CODIT compartments, trees make create four different chemical walls – two circular, one radial, and one more or less flat horizontally. Describing these walls is a bit esoteric, or maybe boring, but if you’re interested in the details, this US Forest Service document is superb.

I’d like to point out that wound closure, often referred to as “healing over,” is not closely related to how much decay will occur. The extent of rot depends on how effectively a tree can wall off infections. Closure is good in as much as the vascular system no longer needs to detour around a wound, but closure doesn’t protect against inner decay if the tree is too weak to chemically protect itself.

The success of this walling-off depends a lot on the species. Hard maple and white oak, for instance, can generate a strong CODIT response. Poplar and willow, on the other hand, barely manage to form any chemical walls, while species like red oak and soft maple do a mediocre job of it.

Overall tree vitality is another important factor. We know that if we’re chronically stressed, malnourished, poorly hydrated or otherwise run down, we are a lot more vulnerable to illness. Even a sugar maple may not be able to form strong chemical walls if it’s in a weakened state. By definition, landscape trees are stressed as compared to their forest-dwelling cousins. A street tree is worse-off yet, faced with reflected heat, limited root space, road salt, air pollution and more.

And of course the size of the injury makes a difference. Even a happy, healthy tree can have its defenses overwhelmed by a large wound. We know that many times, the tree loses its battle against decay.

Much less is known about the way trees react to insect pests. We’re aware that trees defend against insect pests by engaging their internal chemistry set to synthesize compounds, known to scientists as Bad Tasting Stuff, to repel them (insects, that is – not scientists). In many cases trees seem able to tailor their natural repellant to a specific bug. But these designer chemicals aren’t perfect – just look at what tent caterpillars and gypsy moths can do.

It has recently come to light that trees have a kind of distant-early warning system. Apparently they can signal one another about what type of pest has arrived on the scene to munch foliage. This communication happens under the ground through root grafts, though the mechanism is not well-researched. Some biologists also think that airborne chemicals might carry messages related to pests or diseases as well.

Creative Commons, no derivative works

In addition, trees have protective structures called branch collars, located at the base of every branch. Branch collars are more adept than regular trunk tissue at producing fungicides to form protective barriers. This collar is usually a slightly enlarged “donut” ring at the base of the branch – it’s essential not to damage or remove it when pruning. Especially on hardwoods, pruning cuts must never be flush with the trunk; rather they should be made just outside the branch collar.

You can help maximize your tree’s “immune system” by watering during dry spells, mulching out to the dripline, and keeping vehicles off the root zone. In return, your tree will help keep you in optimal health by offering shade, beauty and companionship.

This is what purple paint means


According to the Purple Paint Law, states allow landowners to paint a fence post or pole on the edge of their property purple to signify “No Trespassing.” Why no signs? Some landowners might have signs, too, but acclimate weather has a tendency to knock those signs down.

While the posts signify no trespassing in general, they specifically refer to “No Hunting” on the owner’s property.

At this time Kentucky is not one of the eleven states that have this law in place.  Read more…


How to protect yourself from ticks

By Kendal Bowman – Owen County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources

If you spend a significant amount of time outdoors in the summer, chances are you have had a few tick encounters. Ticks are parasites that must have three blood meals during their lifetime to develop and reproduce. Kentucky is an ideal environment for ticks as we have forests, humidity and a large deer population.
The three most common ticks in Kentucky are the lone star tick, American dog tick and the blacklegged tick. The vast majority of bites from these ticks are just itchy nuisances that last between seven to 10 days, but a small percentage of bites can cause serious allergic reactions and illnesses.
Lone star ticks are the most common tick in the state. You can identify female lone star ticks by the white spot on their backs. Males are reddish brown. Lone star ticks are vectors of human ehrlichiosis, a bacterial disease, and alpha-gal syndrome, known as the “red meat allergy.” All developmental stages of the tick will feed on humans, and unlike other tick species that lay in wait for a host, lone star ticks actively seek out a blood meal.
The blacklegged tick is the only species that tends to be active year-round in Kentucky, and it is the only vector of Lyme disease. Blacklegged ticks have a reddish-brown body, a dark head, long mouthparts and dark legs. Males have a dark plate that covers their whole body, while females have a dark plate that covers half of their body.
The American dog tick is the primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It is reddish brown with mottled white markings on its back. Only adult American dog ticks feed on humans

You can minimize your chances of getting a tick bite by not walking through or brushing up against high grass, brush or other tick-prone areas. You can wear a tick repellent that contains between 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and use a repellent containing permethrin on your clothing and gear. Wear light-colored clothing, as this makes ticks easier to see. Tuck long pants into your socks or boots to minimize the chances of ticks attaching to your pant leg.
Many times, ticks find their way indoors through our pets. Reduce your pet’s chances of attracting ticks by using a tick collar, spray or shampoo or a monthly “top spot” medication.
Promptly finding and removing ticks is key to reducing your chances of contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Ticks must be attached to humans for several hours before they transmit these diseases. While outdoors, you should check yourself and your friends, family members and pets for ticks every two to three hours and again after you return home. Some of the most common places to find them are behind your ears, hair, neck, legs and around your waist. If ticks are found, the best way to remove them is by using a fine-tipped tweezer.

Tick repellents and how to use them

Follow these precautions to steer clear of disease-causing tick bites this season. Go to

Kentucky River Authority Watershed Grant offering

The Kentucky River Authority provides funding assistance to organizations throughout the Kentucky River Basin who are interested in doing their part to keep the river and its tributaries clean.  Past projects have enabled stream cleanups, tree plantings, educational signage, water festivals, water quality sampling and many more beneficial activities.

If you are interested in doing something in your area, please consider applying for this year’s grant offering.

Forests growing on shale bedrock take up more carbon

Forests growing on shale bedrock store 25% more live, above ground carbon and grow faster, taking up about 55% more carbon each year than forests growing on sandstone bedrock.

According to Margot Kaye, associate professor of forest ecology at Pennsylvania State University, shale forests make up a smaller portion of the landscape and should be high-priority candidates for management or conservation.

Read more…

The findings of the research are recently published in Forest Ecology and Management (2020).

Forest Inventory and Analysis projects how forests are likely to appear 10 to 50 years from now.

The Forest Inventory and Analysis Program of the U.S. Forest Service reports on the status and trends in forest area and location; in the species, size, and health of trees; in total tree growth, mortality, and removals by harvest; in wood production and utilization rates by various products; and in forest land ownership.

Fact sheets summarizing a state’s essential forest data can be found at