Officials: Now could be time to sell red pine stands

ALPENA — Owners of large stands of red pine in Montmorency and Alpena counties may want to consider selling or harvesting the trees in the next year, according to Alpena Conservation District Forester Brooke Alloway.

This is because large sections of the pines are dying off due to a July 8 hail storm that damaged trees and crops in the area, she said. The damage has made the trees susceptible to a type of tree fungus called diplodia shoot blight.

Alloway said hail as big as three inches fell causing a lot of damage to trees, including the many stands of red pine that were planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

“Communities in Alpena and Montmorency, from Lewiston and continuing east south of M- 32 were affected, with damage occurring to roofs, farm crops, and trees,” she said.

She said mature, dominant trees as well as young or suppressed trees have experienced branch death and death to the entire tree.

According to Alloway, hail on its own would not damage red pine to the extent that has occurred and the most likely scenario is that diplodia shoot blight, a type of fungus, and canker has damaged and killed these red pines.

Alloway said there is nothing much that can be done about trees infected with fungus and the trees infected will kill them within a couple years.

“Within the next year people will see how much damage it was,” she said. “Really the only thing to do is to try to get some of the value of the trees by harvesting them.”

Alloway said realistically to get the full value for the logs they would have to be harvested this winter yet or early this year.

She said infected stands should be cut to stop future regeneration of the fungus in threes.

Alloway said she does not have figures on how many acres could be infected, though when driving through areas of Montmorency County there are visibly dying stands of trees.

She said the fungus is not natural in Michigan but has become naturalized in the stands of trees from nursery stock.

“It’s always there,” she said. “But if you have a major drought or a hail incident, it could affect the trees. Otherwise it’s latent.”

Alloway said anyone who would like advice on their red pine can contact her at the conservation district for either advice on their timber or just general advice on their land.

“The one nice thing about us is we’re free and we’re not biased,” she said. “There are some loggers who are fantastic and will be honest, and some that will not do that.”

Alloway can be reached by calling 356-3596 or by emailing her at brook.alloway@macd.org.

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews. Read his blog, Sunny side up, with Jason at www.thealpenanews.com.