Today’s Topic: N.C. Forest Service identifies laurel wilt in New Hanover County

by | May 21, 2013

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Southern Farm Network logoLast week, the N.C. Forest Service announced the detection of laurel wilt in New Hanover County. The disease, which is devastating to redbay and other plants in the laurel family, was identified near the western edge of Wilmington.

The disease has been identified across the Southeast in portions of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. In North Carolina, it was discovered in Bladen, Columbus, Pender and Sampson counties in 2011 and in Brunswick County last year. In North Carolina, sassafras, pondberry, pondspice, swampbay and spicebush also can be harmed by the disease.

Laurel wilt is introduced into trees by the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle. The female beetle bores into the bark of the tree, infecting it with the fungus, which blocks the movement of water from the tree roots. Eventually, the tree wilts and dies from lack of water. The fungus is extremely fast-acting, and trees typically die within a month of infection.

The pest can be spread by moving firewood. Homeowners with dead redbay trees are encouraged to keep cut trees on their property. Dead trees should not be removed to a landfill or off site to be used as firewood. Leave the wood on site, or dispose of it by cutting or chipping it on site or burning wood on site in compliance with local and state ordinances.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about laurel wilt and how invasive plant pests are becoming more prevalent in the U.S. For more information about laurel wilt, click here.

[Audio:|titles=Today’s Topic for May 21]

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