Got Nature? Blog

Posted on November 13th, 2017 in Forestry, Gardening, Natural Resource Planning | No Comments »

A recent study in Costa Rica by scientists at Princeton University-Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Pennsylvania-Ecology & Biodiversity showed how agricultural waste could help successfully remediate barren tropical forest sites.

Orange Close Ups

A deal between an orange juice manufacturer and advisors for the Área de Conservación Guanacaste was struck that allowed 1,000 truckloads (12 metric tons) of orange peels and pulp to be unloaded on nutrient-poor soils dominated by invasive grass within one of Costa Rica’s national parks in the mid-1990s. The land was left to rest for sixteen years. Now, the forest has begun the lengthy process of regeneration and some secondary forest regeneration has been observed. The peels were spread over 3 ha (7 acres) and scientists measured an increase of 176% in aboveground biomass. The distinction between the orange-fertilized land and the unfertilized areas was pronounced. Orange-fertilized areas demonstrated more tree biomass and species diversity and richer soils than their counterparts.

Orange field change

To enlarge photo click on image. Photo credits: Tim Treuer, Daniel Janzen, Winnie Hallwachs, & Leland Werden.

This research shows what could happen when the environmental community and industry find a medium where they can work together to come up with problem solutions. Perhaps, in future, similar uses can be found for agricultural excess here in the United States.

References:
Treuer TLH, Choi JJ, Janzen DH, Hallwachs W, Peréz-Aviles D, Dobson AP, Powers JS, Shanks LC, Werden LK, Wilcove DS. (2017) Low-cost agricultural waste accelerates tropical forest regeneration. Restoration Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/rec.12565

Resources:
Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association
Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources workshops
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


The bright, crisp colors of summer begin to fade with the arrival of fall, revealing a riot of new colors on our foliage. These colors range from vivid reds and golds to deep oranges and browns before finally falling from the trees. For decades, travelers have chased the rainbow of colors across the United States in hopes of taking breathtaking photos or just for personal gratification.

Weather conditions throughout the year contribute to autumn colors but the primary driving factor is day length. Numerous warm, sunny days and cool evenings seem to be the harbingers of the best fall colors. Idyllic weather conditions allow trees to produce significantly higher volumes of sugar in leaves and the cool nights slow sugar export.

Surplus leaf sugars stimulate anthocyanin (red and purple) pigment production. Carotenoid (yellow and gold) pigment levels tend to remain steady throughout the growing season though masked by chlorophyll until autumn. Chlorophyll In addition to sunshine, soil moisture also contributes to leaf color. Predictors of vibrant fall color: spring (warm, wet); summer (warm/hot with sufficient rain); fall (warm sunny days, cool nights). Delayed spring showers or an extended summer drought can delay fall color for weeks.

2017 GotNature Fall Color Fig 1a

Color change is initiated in the northeastern United States before continuing southward and can be species-specific. Aspens and hickories (primarily bronze, gold, and yellow), dogwood and oaks (ranging from deep red to dark brown), and maples (most often bright red to yellow-orange) represent the wide range of hues. In contrast, some species (elm) rarely exhibit any fall color. The map below, currently pinpointed to November 5th, can be used to visualize progression of fall color nationwide. For details of fall color across the nation, a fall color hotline 1-800-354-4595 has been created by the Forest Service to give travelers updates.

Fall foliage prediction act, smokymountains.com.

References:
Figure 1- Fall leaf photo
Figure 2- Fall foliage prediction act, smokymountains.com

Resources:
Autumn Leaves – what influences the color? – Got Nature?, Purdue FNR-Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


INSAF IdentityThe CCH system is a program of continuing certification designed to encourage certified applicators to keep renewing certification as time passes in order to stay aware of changes pertinent to their work and to increase professional competency. With the system enacted, applicators maintain a continuous learning pattern whereby their knowledge is expanded.

For those needing to maintain certification as pesticide applicators in category 2, 3A, and 6, the Indiana Society of American Foresters Forest Pesticide Training Program normally provides 4 to 5 CCH credits. There will also be speaker(s) who will have a topic related to forest management, forest pesticide applications, materials, safety, forest pests, integrated pest management, or another related topic.

The IN SAF Pesticide Training Program will take place on Wednesday, November 29th at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Center in Danville, Indiana. For more upcoming information, check out the Indiana Society of American Foresters website or contact Lenny Farlee (Email: lfarlee@purdue.edu, Phone:765 494-9461).

Resources:
Indiana Commercial Pesticide and Fertilizer Applicator Continuing Certification Program, Office of Indiana State Chemist
Purdue Pesticide Programs – Purdue Agriculture
National Pesticide Information Center – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on October 6th, 2017 in Alert, Forestry, Safety, Timber Marketing, Woodlands | No Comments »

Indiana DNR IndentityThe Indiana DNR bovine tuberculosis surveillance team earned the Excellence in Conservation Award from the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Agency for their bovine tuberculosis surveillance and monitoring efforts in 2016.

In 2016, a wild white-tailed deer tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in Franklin County, Indiana. Bovine tuberculosis is a bacterial disease most often found in cattle and captive cervids, but can be transmitted to wild white-tailed deer and other wild mammals. The DNR tested more than 2,000 hunter-harvested deer in 2016 and did not find another bovine tuberculosis positive deer. For more information on bovine tuberculosis in wild white-tailed deer check out our Purdue Extension-FNR webpage: Bovine Tb in wild white-tailed deer: background and frequently asked questions.

Resources:
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Bovine Tb resources
Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) Bovine Tb resources
USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Bovine Tb disease information
Michigan DNR Bovine Tb information
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bovine Tb resources
Center for Disease Control Bovine Tb factsheet

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Red maple tree, fall red leaves. Photo by: Lenny Farlee

Red maple tree with leaves turning red in fall. Photo by: Lenny Farlee

​The calendar flipping over to October is a reminder the annual Autumn leaf color display is on its way. The perennial question is “how will the color be this year?” Predicting the quality of the fall display requires weighing several factors that may vary over time and across the landscape. In general, Indiana started the growing season wet and is ending it dry. The good growing conditions early this year have produced abundant leaf area on many trees. As we have dried out late in the season, some trees are experiencing stress that may cause leaves to turn color and drop early, or to simply turn brown. Drought may also delay the color change by a week or more in some cases. Leaves that were attacked by insects or disease may also drop early or provide very little color. I noticed Japanese beetles seemed to be more active than normal this year, skeletonizing leaves on preferred plants like linden and Virginia creeper. Local weather patterns can also influence color intensity in a positive way. Sunny days and cool nights late in the summer and early fall can enhance the production of anthocyanin – a pigment produced in some trees that provides bright red, maroon and purple tones to the fall color palate.

Hop hornbeam tree with yellow fall leaves. Photo by: Lenny Farlee

Hop hornbeam tree with yellow fall leaves. Photo by: Lenny Farlee.

This brings us to another variable: different species of trees may produce different colors, timing, and duration of fall color. Some species like sassafras, sumac, black and sweet gum, and sugar and red maple are famous for bright fall color. Some species like elms, buckeye and walnut may simply turn brown or drop early with little color display. Different individual trees may also vary due to genetic differences, growing conditions and tree health. For example, some sugar maple located in open areas or on the edge of a woodlot, receiving lots of sunlight, may regularly produce vibrant oranges and reds, while nearby sugar maple in the shade of the forest will turn a subdued yellow, lacking the sugar reserves produced by their neighbors in the sun.

Leaf color change is also the result of a very predictable process based on the longer night period as summer slips into fall. The production of green chlorophyll pigments slows and finally stops as the nights become longer and cooler, exposing the yellows and oranges of carotenoids and reds and maroons of anthocyanins. This process also starts forming a zone of separation between the leaf and branch that ultimately brings the leaves to the ground, often with the help of wind and rain.

My best answer to those asking for a fall color prediction is another set of questions: how was your weather, what species of trees do you have, and how much sunlight do they receive?

Resources:
Why Leaves Change Color, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area
Fifty Trees of the Midwest App for the iPhone, The Education Store
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Shrubs of Indiana CD: Their Identification and Uses, The Education Store
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest: Identification, Wildlife Values and Landscaping Use, The Education Store
Trees of Indiana CD, The Education Store

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on October 4th, 2017 in Gardening, Got Nature for Kids, Wildlife | No Comments »

Wild animals have a dispersal period where young move on to new ground to establish their own home range. This is nature’s way of mixing the gene pool. It also allows for species to reoccupy small, isolated habitat patches. Late summer and early fall is a common time to see juvenile snakes because of dispersal.

Juvenile Northern Watersnake

Northern Watersnake (Photo provided by R. Dearing)

Snake identification questions are one of my most common that I receive from the public. Usually, people want to know if the snake is venomous or not. Most snakes in Indiana are not venomous. In fact, there are only four venomous species in Indiana. Their distributions are generally limited.

The snake pictured here to the right is a Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon).  Photo and identification request was submitted to our “Ask an Expert” web submission by Mr. R. Dearing. While only about a foot long here, adults can reach several feet in length. Coloration in them is variable, but they typically have dark bands on a lighter tan or brown background. The bands are complete towards the head and fragment towards the tail. This little snake found its way into Mr. Dearing’s house. Fortunately, he was able to catch it and return it to the creek behind their house—which explains why it was there in the first place.

Resources:
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
How can I tell if a snake is venomous, FAQs, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Indiana Amphibian and Reptile ID Package, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Ask An Expert, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources

Brian MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University


Tree Planted in BackyardSpring and Fall is prime time for improving your property with new trees. They provide many benefits which everyone can share. Trees mean more attractive landscapes, lower energy bills and a healthier environment. However, just planting a tree without some thought and planning can create a liability rather than an asset to your site. Wise planning is essential to ensure the new trees meet your design needs and functional solutions as well. Follow these basic tips to get your tree started right and make it a long-lasting sustainable planting. For more information, download the free publication Tree Installation: Process and Practice.

Right Tree-Right Place.
Location, location, location! Planning before planting can help ensure that the right tree is planted in the right place. Proper tree selection and placement enhances your property value, prevents costly and sometimes unsightly maintenance with trimming, and lowers the risk of damage to your home and property. In some instances, trees are the innocent victim of poor planting locations and must be removed. Always allow room for growth! Also, consider native trees or those trees with fewer pests which can attack your tree. Large trees include Kentucky Coffeetree, Bur Oak and Hardy Rubber Tree. Medium-sized trees can include Japanese Pagoda Tree, Sourwood, Katsura Tree and Golden Raintree. Finally, for areas with less room, consider Serviceberry, Ironwood, Amur Maackia or Hop Tree. These are just a few of the many trees which can be chosen for your situation.

Look Up, Look Down, and Look All Around!
Regardless if the planting is in the front yard or the back yard of the home or business, be sure there will be no interference with utilities; Call 811 before you dig. It will prevent costly mistakes and maybe a life. In addition, if the tree is going to be planted along the street, typically, there is an ordinance requiring a permit to plant in the right of way. This helps Urban Forestry administration keep up the street tree inventory and allows the ISA Certified Arborists on staff a chance to offer free advice to help in the planting decisions.

It Comes from Good Stock…
Choose the tree twice, meaning get the right species for your location; then, make an informed choice on the nursery stock. Be sure the function of the tree is understood and choose the right tree for the location. Shade? Flowers? Screening? Sound Barrier? Trees can be used as tools to work for you on the site. “You get what you pay for” applies to nursery stock as well. Purchase plant material from a reputable source and get a professional opinion on the tree species for your application. One hint, if it is a fast growing tree, it probably won’t last long. See our video for tree selection tips.

This Hole is a Home!
It is a permanent home for the trees… understand the planting site prior to planting. Determine soil type and pH, drainage and exposure to the sun. If the tree isn’t naturally suited to the planting place, it doesn’t have a chance. Planting depth is a major tree planting concern. Be sure to find the “root flare” when establishing the final grade of the tree. Drainage is crucial to survival. Use the two-hour test. Dig the hole, fill it with water. If the hole is empty upon returning, there is suitable drainage for any tree. Plant the tree properly and at the proper depth, you only get one chance… Don’t dig a $10 hole for a $100 tree. See our video on tree planting tips.

Keep Good Care of the Investment.
Once the tree is in the ground, take good care of it. At least an inch of water per week to keep it growing vigorously, apply clean, hardwood mulch on the root zone to keep soils cool and moist, but never exceed three inches in depth. Remember to remove any tags on the tree and don’t forget to remove the twine from around the trunk. Don’t worry about the fertilizer at planting time, wait until next year, after the tree has gotten settled in to its new home. Enjoy your new addition to the home and landscape!

Resources:
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Support Systems, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Adult Emerald Ash BorerThe Emerald Ash Borer University  is a collaborative effort of Michigan State University, Purdue University, the Ohio State University, Michigan University and Ohio University to provide comprehensive, accurate and timely information on the emerald ash borer to it’s viewers. As of September 21st, it has launched it’s Fall 2017 Webinar in order for the public to become more informed on Emerald Ash Borers. The schedule is as follows:

9/28/2017 “EAB for Homeowners: Managing EAB, Individuals to Neighborhoods” – Cliff Sadof, Purdue University
10/5/2017 “EAB Management and Pollinator Safety” – Reed Johnson, Ohio State University
10/12/2017 “After EAB: Encouraging Regrowth of a Healthy Forest” – Kathy Smith, Ohio State University
10/19/2017 “Thousand Cankers Disease: Threatening the Nation’s Walnut Trees” – Matthew Ginzel, Purdue University

All past Webinars are now available on the EABU YouTube Channel.

Resources:
Question: What options do we have to treat our ash trees against the Emerald Ash Borer?, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Invasive Pest Species: Tools for Staging and Managing EAB in the Urban Forest, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Emerald Ash Borer, Purdue Extension-Entomology
Emerald Ash Borer Cost Calculator – Purdue Extension Entomology

Cliff Sadof, Professor
Purdue University Department of Entomology


Posted on September 25th, 2017 in Forestry, Invasive Plant Species, Plants, Woodlands | No Comments »

Sericea lespedeza, invasive plant speciesSericea lespedeza is arguably one of the most problematic invasive species of old fields, prairies and other early successional areas managed for wildlife. Sericea lespedeza is a perennial legume native to eastern Asia that was originally promoted for erosion control, cattle forage, cover and food for wildlife. But as with many plant introductions during the early and mid-19th century (e.g., multiflora rose, autumn olive, and bush honeysuckle), the original beliefs – while well intentioned – were ill fated and short-sided. Sericea has become invasive, is considered noxious in many states, and can be found from Massachusetts to Nebraska and from Florida to Ontario.

Here are 3 problems with sericea and 3 tools for control.

Problems:

  1. Sericea is adapted to a wide variety of conditions: sericea is able to tolerant and thrive in acidic soils with relatively low soil fertility and is also drought tolerant. These factors combined with allopathic chemicals makes sericea extremely competitive causing sericea to quickly invade and overtake early successional areas displacing many native species.
  2. Sericea produces an abundance of seed: one sericea plant is able to produce more than 1000 seeds and seeds are thought to be viable for up to 20 years in the seedbank. Sericea was initially thought to provide an abundance of seed valuable to wildlife including northern bobwhite. However, the seed cannot be digested by most wildlife, thus it provides no nutritional benefits and bobwhite can actually starve by consuming only sericea seed. Research in Kansas also reported a higher percentage of sericea seed germinated after passing through the digestive system of bobwhite compared to unconsumed seed.
  3. Sericea responds prolifically following spring fires: fire is the most effective way to manage early successional vegetation. However, fire during the dormant season seems to only anger sericea and exacerbate the problem. Fire scarifies sericea seed and seedling density is increased following spring fires.

Control:Sericea lespedeza in grasslands, invasive plant species

  1. Herbicide: triclopyr (32 oz/acre), triclopyr + fluroxypyr (1.5 pt/acre), or glyphosate (1-2 qt/acre) can be used to effectively control sericea in early successional areas from June through July when sericea is 12-18 inches tall. Metsulfuron methyl (1 oz/ac) provides effective control when applied to sericea during flowering (Aug-Sep).
  2. Prescribed fire: while prescribed fire during the dormant season enhances sericea germination, fire during the late-growing season (July-Sep) can reduce sericea seed production and can decrease sericea survival. However, fire alone may not be enough to control sericea long term.
  3. Herbicide + Prescribed Fire: sericea can be controlled with herbicide during the growing season. This can be followed up with a late-growing season fire to consume any sericea not killed by the herbicide and reduce sericea seed production. The following summer herbicide can be used again to kill any new sericea seedlings or plants that have resprouted from rhizomes.

If you find sericea in fields that you manage, working quickly to stop seed production and kill the existing plants will be the most effective way to control an invasion.

Web Resources:
Herbicides to control sericea lespedeza, Southeastern Asosciation of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
Effects of Growing-Season Prescribed Burning on Vigor of Sericea Lespedeza in the Kansas Flint Hills: I. Suppression of Seed Production and Canopy Dominance, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports

Other Resources:
If Your Native Grasses Look Like This, It’s Time for Management, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on September 22nd, 2017 in Forestry, Forests and Street Trees, Woodlands | No Comments »

FNR 550 WDue to reasons such as pruning, location of growth and species characteristics, trees can grow in ways that don’t endorse long-term health and safety. To counter trees growing in unsafe ways, cabling, bracing, guying, or props can be utilized to prevent branch or whole-tree failure. These tree support systems reinforce critical areas of the tree by limiting the movement of branches or leaders. In the publication titled Large Tree Cabling and Bracing, FNR-550-W, common structural deficiencies in trees and the tree support devices used to prevent problems caused by those deficiencies are described and covered.

Resources:
Tree Support Systems, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Pruning: What Do Trees Think?, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Got Nature?, Purdue Extension, Forestry and Natural Resources

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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