Archive for Southern Pine Beetle

Making $$ from Timber


Making $$ from Timber

Keith Hawkins, Area Extension Forester

             A few summers ago, a forest landowner called me to look at a bark beetle infestation. The good news was that the “bug” spot was inactive and was not spreading. It has some dead trees, and dark green trees close by. If it had been a “hot” bug spot, there would have been dead brown trees, then yellow trees, then light green trees, and then dark green trees.  The gradual change in needle colors would indicate that the bark beetles would be spreading.

While I was visiting with the landowner, he shared with me that he received an unsolicited offer to buy his timber. Fortunately, he declined the offer, and if he had accepted the offer, I suspect that he would have lost a lot of money.

During years of service forestry, I have learned that unsolicited bids to buy timber tend to be low, about 10 to 25 cents on the dollar. Most landowners do not sell enough timber to know how to realize the best price for their timber.  How does a landowner protect his interest in this kind of transaction?

A timber sale is a type of real estate transaction and requires professional assistance. The best professional for this job is a consulting forester who is paid a percentage of the gross receipts, usually about ten percent. A study in Georgia found that landowners, who use a consultant, on average, earn 60% more than landowners who do not.

A consulting forester will take an inventory of the volume of your timber and the kinds of products such as pulpwood or sawtimber. The consultant will obtain competitive bids from timber buyers for the best price. A consulting forester may be able to oversee the timber harvest to enforce the sale contract. Normally, a consultant offers many timber and land management services in addition to selling timber. For example, a forester will assist with reforestation of cutover land.

Your local LDAF office has a listing of consulting foresters serving the state of Louisiana.

SUMMARY: If you own timberland, DO NOT accept any unsolicited offers to buy your timber because the offer will likely be much lower than the actual market value. DO use a consulting forester to inventory your timber stand and to administer your sale contract. A listing of consulting foresters is available from the Louisiana Department of Forestry. Your nearest Extension forester will also have access to a listing of consulting foresters. If you have questions, you can contact Keith Hawkins at 337-463-7006 or at

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Predators in and of the Pines – A Perspective

Predators in and of the Pines – Perspective

By George Giltner, lifetime tree farmer

Louisiana’s “number 1” crop is wood fiber in the form of southern pines.  The most economical means of growing these trees is in a semi-monoculture of Southern Pine Plantations, the Tree Farm.  Through modern times this practice has come under the attack of novice environmentalists, property taxes, and pine beetles.

My encounters with novice environmentalists of the 70’s was they did not like the appearance of “strait rows of trees”, but otherwise they could not define a valid reason for environmental harm in growing pine trees, which existed here since the last ice age.   However their efforts did aid in one of the largest southern pine beetle outbreaks in Kisatchie National Forest, and on surrounding areas.  Instead of taking measures to control the outbreak, “Let Nature take its course” lead to a temporary decimation of some of the most beautiful pine forests in the South.  As I walked through miles and miles of Kisatchie hiking trails surrounded by dead snags of fire and beetle destroyed forest, my spirit was depressed.  This type of terrific destruction and waste was preventable, if foresters were allowed to manage the forest.

A checkered clerid beetle attacking a bark beetle. Photo by USDA Forest Service.

After the 70’s, logic and science replaced some of the chaos of Mother Nature’s bad side and novices.  J. D. Reeve and many other USDA Forest Service researchers have done a tremendous job of unraveling forest ecology of the Southern Pine Beetle with published articles: “Predation and bark beetle dynamics” (1997), “Complex emergence patterns in a bark beetle predator” (2000), “Artificial diet and rearing methods for Thanasimus dubius, a predator of bark beetles” (2003), and “Geographic variation in prey preference in bark beetle predators” (2009), and numerous other articles.  For these scientists, we owe gratitude and thanks for their life-time efforts in modern understanding of bark beetles.

“Southern Pine Beetle II”, USDA Report SRS-140 (Nov 2013, 522 p.) can be downloaded free of charge to your iPad, computer or a printed copy can be purchased.  This wealth of information is invaluable to foresters and tree farmers as it delves into details of the tree host, pine beetles, and the predators and parasitoids of pine beetles.  We have understood that trees under stress from high density stands, disease, flooding, drought, storms, or mechanical damage are most susceptible to SPB attacks.  The next phase of research, already in progress, is to artificially rear SPB predators that can control outbreaks.  Another topic of research is to understand and establish healthy endemic populations of predators that naturally curve bark beetle outbreaks. This may include having annual food plots for omnivorous (nectar/pollen – bark beetle) predators, or perennial shrubs and hardwoods that provide habitat for a diverse variety of insects within a pine plantation.  The predators of bark beetles must have a food supply when they are not feeding on SPB, Ips, and other tree pests.

Property taxes can be as devastating as Southern Pine Beetles and hurricanes to the family owned tree farms.  In recent years the profits have decreased to record lows while federal, state, and parish taxes have increased.  This tax pressure has helped erode productive agricultural land into fragmented suburbia.  If the trend continues, our forest and forest industries along with clean water and wildlife habitat will disappear as it has in many other communities in the United States. It is common for additional recreational and school taxes to be passed with ease, for property values above $75 k, while owners of lesser property pay nothing.  It is not only the big box stores that get hit with these taxes.  It is family farms, too, that get punished with these unfair taxes.  If all citizens want a remote sidewalk around a barrow pit, then everyone should have to pay, not just productive property owners.  If a school needs additional tax funds, it should also be a joint responsibility of all citizens that vote to contribute.

Growing trees is a long term investment that requires a minimum of 12 years before a return comes in.  However pests of all types take their toll from the day the trees are placed in the ground.  While science provides us with understanding and a hopeful future, it is commonly our laws and taxes that determine success or failure.  May we be reminded of our agricultural founders, Washington and Jefferson, who understood the role of past civilization’s history and destiny.

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“Whitetail Deer Food Plots” will be Featured at SW LA Forestry Association Annual Meeting


“Whitetail Deer Food Plots” will be Featured at

SW LA Forestry Association Annual Meeting

 Again, it is that time of the year when forest landowners are invited to attend the Southwest Louisiana Forestry Forum. Dr. Don Reed, Wildlife Biologist, will instruct deer hunters and landowners about the most productive methods of installing food plots for whitetail deer.

Also, the Southwest Louisiana Forestry Association (SWLAFA) Annual Meeting will occur jointly with the Forum. This Meeting will be on Saturday, March 9th, 8 AM until 12 noon, at the Exhibition Hall, Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds, DeRidder, LA. The cost for this event is $25 per household which includes a husband, wife, and dependent children. Lunch is also included in this fee as well as a year’s membership. A registration form is included towards the back of this newsletter.

Another important benefit to being a member of the SWLAFA is free admission to most workshops coming up later this spring. A story in the newsletter will describe other programming that the Board of the SWLAFA had requested from the LSU AgCenter.

This event will deliver useful forestry topics such as: the state of Louisiana forestry, and USDA forestry programs. Here is a summary of the topics on our agenda:

STATE OF LOUISIANA FORESTRY: Mr. Buck Vandersteen, Executive Director of the Louisiana Forestry Association (LFA), will make a presentation about the state of Louisiana Forestry. Buck is also very knowledgeable about upcoming forestry issues which our State and National Legislators will confront.

The LFA provides an insurance program for landowners and hunt clubs, and these comprehensive general liability policies offer a $1 million dollar policy per occurrence with a $2 million aggregate with no deductible. Both the landowner and the hunt club will receive a certificate of insurance.  As always, Buck welcomes questions from attendees about forestry, landowner insurance and related topics.

FOOD PLOTS FOR WHITETAIL DEER: Dr. Don Reed, AgCenter’s Wildlife Biologist, wrote Food Plot Plantings for White-tailed Deer in Louisiana, a publication to assist hunters and landowners in producing forage suitable for our native deer. Dr. Reed will describe the optimal methods for raising food plots.

Also, Dr. Reed will be available to answer question regarding other aspects of wildlife Management.

ASSISTANCE FOR FOREST LANDOWNERS: Mr. Corby Moore, our local Conservationist with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will share the latest information about programs to help forest landowners. Some of those programs help with longleaf pine reforestation,  hardwood tree planting, and other practices can help with controlling invasive exotic plants. Some programs allow for landowners to improve their wildlife habitat. The USDA provides financial resources to enable good forest and wildlife management.

SOUTHERN PINE BEETLE (SPB) UPDATE & NON-NATIVE FOREST INSECTS AND THEIR POTENTIAL INFESTATION: Where is the SPB? What are they doing? Will their number explode soon? Dr. Tim Showalter will talk about what SPB is doing and what the future will hold regarding this important pest of southern yellow pine trees. Dr. Showalter will also apprise forest landowners of other forest pests which may cause economic problems for Beauregard Parish and other timber locations in Louisiana.

UPDATE: EUCALYPTUS FORESTRY IN SW LOUISIANA: SW Louisiana, especially around Merryville, LA, is home to several thousand acres of eucalyptus which will provide wood fiber for paper manufacturing. Dr. Mike Blazier, an AgCenter Forestry Professor, has conducted herbicide trials on eucalyptus plantations in Beauregard Parish and can describe the current status of this fairly new type of forestry.


FEE:  $25 per household (husband, wife & dependent children); Late fee: $5 additional



# Attending: _____________________      $ Amount Enclosed: ______________

Make checks payable to:    “SW LA Forestry Association”.

Proceeds go to Beauregard 4-H Foundation & to AgCenter adult education.

Mail payment & this form by March 6, 2013 to: Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter, POB 609, DeRidder, LA 70634

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 337-463-7006 or

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