Archive for forest health

2015 Prescribed Burn Workshop in SW Louisiana


2015 Prescribed Burn Workshop in SW Louisiana

Keith Hawkins, Area Extension Forester

The LSU AgCenter in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry had a prescribed burn workshop to enable attendees to become “Certified Burn Managers”. Dr. Niels de Hoop, LSU Forestry Professor, was the lead instructor. Mark Davis and Darrell Eaves, both of the LDAF, also provided instruction.

2015 PB field exercise

Attendees cutting a firebreak during a field exercise.

Topics will include: fuels, burning techniques, proper tools, optimal weather conditions, smoke management, liability management, planning, fire behavior and more.

The successful graduates of this workshop are:

  1. Anderson, Becky
  2. Anderson, Harold
  3. Battaglia, Charles,
  4. Breland, Bradley
  5. Cooke, Dan
  6. Doffitt, Chris
  7. Fitzsimmons, Robert
  8. Garrett, Cody
  9. Gutierrez, Mariamar
  10. Holten, Ben
  11. Koepp, Russell
  12. Lawson, RaHarold
  13. LeJeune, Aubrey
  14. Parker, Kenneth
  15. Perkins, Robert Shane
  16. Reynolds, Matthew
  17. Richmond, Cecilia
  18. Rose, Gardner
  19. Shirley, Charleston
  20. Smith Vivian
  21. Sonnier, Cliff
  22. Tate, Jon

Congratulations to all students.

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Bugs in Firewood Infect Nearby Trees


Bugs in Firewood Infect Nearby Trees

By George  Giltner,  Adv. Master Gardener, Tree Farmer

On a recent trip, we noticed a billboard that warned users of firewood not to transport the wood, but instead to buy locally cut trees.  There may be invasive bugs hidden in and under the bark that can infect and cause the death of your favorite trees.  Firewood should not be sold or bought if it is infested with bugs.

LSU Plant Pathologist, Dr. Raj Singh, in a 11/03/14 news release warned that Laurel Wilt has been confirmed in Union Parish.  This lethal fungal disease is spread by the Redbay ambrosia beetle, which is carried with infested firewood.  Host trees include sassafras, red bay, swamp bay, camphor, spicebush, pond berry, pond spice, avocado, and California laurel.

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Adult redbay ambrosia beetles. Credit: Michael C. Thomas, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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Redbay ambrosia beetles push out frass for “toothpicks” to appear on tree. Credit: Georgia Forestry Service

These black to brown beetles are very small at 2 mm in length.  There presence may not be noticed until they produce fine sawdust tubes that extend from the bark.  Also observe that the leaves of the infected trees are wilted due to clogging of the xylem (water-conducting tissues).  When the bark is peeled notice the black coloration of the sapwood.

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Red Bay with Bark Striped showing black fungus. Credit: Albert Mayfield, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Another beetle, the black twig borer, will attack and kill smaller branches.  It is frequently misdiagnosed as redbay ambrosia beetles.

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Damage by black twig borer.


Please contact Dr. Singh, 225-578-4562 or email him through the LSU AgCenter if you suspect Redbay ambrosia beetles within Louisiana.

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Adult emerald ash borer. credit:


 The adults are a dark metallic green, ½ inch by 1/8 inch wide.  They make a small “D” shaped exit hole when they emerge from the bark. The adults do little damage to the trees as they nibble on leaves, however the larvae feed on and destroy the inner bark (xylem and phloem) which results in significant damage to the tree nutrient and water transport system.  The ash trees usually die within 5 years of the initial infestation. Insecticides may save trees but the degree of damage under the bark is difficult to determine.

The cost of treating trees, especially in landscapes, is a difficult decision.  Homeowners must consider property value enhancement, shade and cooling, environmental quality of life in a neighborhood, and sentimental attachments.  The use of systemic insecticides has been attributed to beneficial insect population declines.  Heavy use of certain insecticides may destroy an EAB infestation, but may not be suitable due to state laws or environmental concerns.

Other serious pests as firewood hitchhikers include the Gypsy Moth (males trapped in Mississippi and Texas) and the Asian Longhorn Beetles that attack 15 plant families including maples, willows, and elms.

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Male & female gypsy moths. Credit: Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

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The best advice for campers and homeowners is to buy only local firewood within a county or parish.  “Spread the Word” about these very destructive insects to fellow hunters and fishermen, fellow campers, and neighbors.  Inspect firewood and report suspicious infestations to AgCenter representatives throughout the state.

George Giltner is a forest landowner in Beauregard Parish, LA  and a self-taught entomologist. He is also a Louisiana Master Gardener.




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Drones for Forest Landowners


Drones for Forest Landowners

By George Giltner

 One of the newest evolving gadgets for farmers is camera drones. The technology has recently changed into “smart” flying cameras that offer a multitude of uses. Even a first glace at a one of these visual choppers scares off many potential users, but the flying has been greatly simplified and is reportedly fun to operate. A quick search on the internet yields numerous videos of instructions, flight trials, and aerial views that seeds landowner’s usage.

drone pic

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter

Forest landowners need close aerial, visual information. For example – When smoke is in the air, a quick flight of a 20 minute battery operated flying camera could spot the location and extent of a local fire.  Then response time could be minimized to reduce damage and intensity.  With state fire teams stretched to extremely low numbers, a quick response by local landowners equipped with plows, sprayers, and rakes could put out initial small fires.


The eye in the sky can also observe suspicious activity. Trespassers, illegal hunters, parked cars around the property boundary, nearby logging operations, etc. can be viewed without risk and the effort of time.  These cameras can range to 300 yards.  Also they can be fitted with wide angle to narrow vision lens.

Some four-legged animals can really be a pest around a tree farm. Feral hogs, loose cows from a busted fence, coyotes, and even deer can be located easily from an above live camera video feed to an iPhone attached to the flight controller.  On the ground this would be impossible, as bushes just a few yards away can hide a piney woods rooter.  However, you would not want to launch a Quadcopter around trees, especially in winds.

Your investment for a good camera system is usually beyond $1000, therefore having it hung up 100 feet into a Longleaf pine, and then dropping to ground would be a disaster. A cleared out loading zone is ideal for launches and retrievals.  If you drop the controller and the power is lost, no problem – a GPS system like the Phantom 2 goes into auto-retrieve mode and flies back to the launch site for a landing.  This also applies when the limit range is overreached.

With a high visual view, problem bug sites can be identified. Also the quickest route can be determined and saved for an up-close examination of the infection. In years of outbreaks of southern pine beetles, this can be a priceless tool for the landowner.  In two weeks time a 40 acre plot could be destroyed within two weeks time, like in the late 70’s and 80’s.

In our Louisiana woods, slews, creeks, marshes, and other obstacles make havoc of a “quick walk in the woods”. A man plowing fire lanes became lost overnight in a creek bottom as he went for a diesel can ‘just across the creek’.  Other stories were common until the age of cell phones, GPS, and updated aerial maps.

Therefore with a little investment in time and a moderate investment in technology, a modern forest manager can have an excellent tool for aerial observation and historical photography. Beyond the forest business, aerial cameras are used for outstanding photography, hobbies, security, and family fun. They are definitely worth investigating for your use.







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Brief Photo Essay on Prescribed Burn Workshop



Brief Photo Essay On Prescribed Burn Workshop

Jimmy Earl Cooley, Master Gardener, and Keith Hawkins, SW Area Extension Forester


Dr. Niels d Hoop, LSU AgCenter, was the lead instructor of this year’s workshop.


This field exercise included a test burn.


After the test burn, the class evaluated to site and decided to burn a small area.


The field exercise included the mop-up of the burn site.


Graduates and Instructors of the 2014 Prescribed Burn Workshop in SW Louisiana.

The graduates of this year’s Prescribed Burn Workshop include, in alphabetic order:

  • Stewart Bailey
  • “Doc” Calcote
  • Joe Chaney
  • Steve Coleman
  • Douglas Dowden
  • Ashton Dupre
  • George Giltner
  • Bret Hardisty
  • Ronny Jones
  • James Love
  • Bryce Mae
  • Wendell Marcantel
  • David Meaux
  • Dick Meaux
  • Gaston Messer
  • Luke Parlier
  • Jonathon Perkins
  • Wayne Pleasant
  • Todd Strother
  • Clint Travis
  • James Turner

Instructors were Mark Davis, District Forester, LDAF, Darrell Eaves, Firefighter, LDAF, Dr. Niels de Hoop, Forestry Professor, LSU AgCenter, and Keith Hawkins, SW Area Extension Forester LSU AgCenter. Mr. Jimmy Earl Cooley was event photographer.



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SWLAFA Board Meeting Minutes – September 18, 2013

SWLAFA Board Meeting Minutes – September 18, 2013 – Wednesday 0900 to 1030 hours

Recorded by George Giltner substituting for Bobbie Giltner, Secretary

Board members in attendance:  Richard Meaux, David Meaux, Harvey Kieffer, Dr. Joe Bruce, George “Shorty” Crain, Paul Stone, and George Giltner.  Keith Hawkins, Chair of LSU AgCenter (Beauregard) Extension Service was absent due to an out of state Service Conference/Award Presentation.

Dr. Joe Bruce moved to approve minutes after their review.  It was seconded by David Meaux.

The board offered “Get Well” wishes to our secretary, Bobbie Giltner, who has recently had a bad fall and health issues.  She was missed by all, and the consensus of a speedy recovery was passed.

The Treasurer’s report was presented by George “Shorty” Crain.  He reported a single withdraw $250 for Keith Hawkin’s Conference Trip) since the last report.  Harvey Kieffer requested a dated Financial Report on paper for board members.  President Richard Meaux wanted the Financial Report to be separated from Keith’s Budget portion in our bank account for clarity.

New Business:  1) The board set a date of March 8, 2014 for the SWLAFA Annual Meeting in the DeRidder Exhibition Hall.  An alternate date of March 15, 2014 was selected in case of conflicting scheduling with the Exhibition Hall.  Keith Hawkins was to make reservations for this event.

2) Topics of the Annual Meeting were discussed.  Consensus was to have professional speakers (Selected/contacted by Keith Hawkins) to provide current information on the following forestry topics:
a) Regeneration Planning (procedure, cost, assistance programs, contacts, fertility issues, etc.)
b) Forestry Management during the growth cycle (fertilization, thinning, burning, disease, storm replants, etc.)
c) Sales (current market, how to make a timber sale, who to contact, markets, etc.)  Current Timber prices can be found online:
d) Local Forest Product Industries (Location, names, and end products that are made from our timber).

3) Tax Exempt Status for the SWLAFA.  Bobbie Giltner is to look through the Secretarial Files to locate documented paperwork and a number for Tax exemption for our organization.  She is to contact David Meaux, or (337) 257-3385 of her search.  If this information is not found, then he will begin a new tax exempt process through the IRS.

4) SWLAFA Bylaws – David Meaux will rewrite and update our bylaws with a dual old/new format for the Board’s review.  He will email this document to board members before the next meeting (Nov. 6).

5) Upcoming SWLAFA Board Meeting Dates:
November 6, 2013 DeRidder AgCenter @ 0900 for Bylaws/Tax Exemption Status/Annual meeting
January 15, 2014 DeRidder AgCenter @ 0900 for Annual meeting details

Adjournment was moved by Richard Meaux, and seconded by Harvey Kieffer.

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The White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

The White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar
By George Giltner, Master Gardener

2013 WMTM

The caterpillar of the White Tussock Moth

Ouch! Most of us in forested areas have come in contact with these little tuffed (tussocks) hair caterpillars with short, bristly, toxic pincushion hairs on their backs.  These stinging hairs cause a very irritating rash especially on the inner arms, neck, and stomach areas.  Where do they come from?  Look no further than trees and brush as these caterpillars feed on a large variety of leaves including oak, pecan, hickory, walnut, willow, rose, maple, pear, and many others, including conifers.

The population densities cycle from year to year with very high numbers one year, then possibly no reports the next year.  They can cause economic loses of newly planted trees (1-3 years old) when complete defoliation occurs.  Healthy developed trees usually recover even when they are completely defoliated.

A positive ID is made by observing the orange head, tuffs on the back, and red dots on the hind abdominal segments that are in line with a dorsal black stripe.  Also look for the brown, paint bush tail hairs. The white-marked tussock moth is related to the gypsy moth, family Lymantriidae, which also has the tussock stinging hairs on the larvae.

To control the young caterpillars (less than ¾ inches) use Bt products like Dipel or Thuricide.  For the larger caterpillar that can reach 1.25 inches, use pyrethroids (synthetics), pyrethrums (natural), or spinosad products.  Birds are voracious feeders on the large caterpillars.

The caterpillars first appear in early April after overwintering in the egg stage.  Then they go through several enlargement stages during 35 days to pupation.  The gray cocoons with silk threads may be noticed in the bark of host plants.  The adults emerge in about 2 weeks, mate, and then die.  The males are born with well-developed wings, but the females are forced to stay local with undeveloped wings. Three generations per year are normal for the white-tussock moth, Orgyia leucostigma.

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Top Ten List: Louisiana Forestry Association


Top Ten List: Louisiana Forestry Association

Keith Hawkins, Area Extension Forester

             The Louisiana Forestry Association (LFA) is a private organization which serves the interests of forest landowners and many enterprises relying on forestry for economic and environmental benefits. With apologies to David Letterman, here is a Top Ten List for joining the LFA:

10.      Sponsors of the Tree Farm Program and the Louisiana Loggers    Council.

9.        Providers of seminars and conferences to improve your knowledge of forestry.

8.        Your voice before state and federal lawmakers.

7.        Defenders against excess regulation.

6.        Source for information to get the most from your forest investment.

5.        Leaders in developing and training in Best Management Practices which protect water quality.

4.        Promoters of Sustainable Forest management.

3.        Supporters of fair competition for your forest products at home and abroad.

2.        Promoters of fair taxation for your forestry investments.

1.      Defenders of your Right to Practice Forestry.

The LFA has more information at about joining. This webpage will provide inforamtion about membership fees and a downloadable form.  For more information, call the LFA at (318) 443-2558 or Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter, 337-463-7006.

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