New Sapwood Challenges “Perfect Storm” of Pine Fungal Infection

Loblolly pine trees may tolerate some fungal infection if they can form new sapwood. USDA Forest Service plant physiologist Mary Anne Sword Sayer, on a team with Ph.D. candidate John K. Mensah of Auburn University’s Forest Health Cooperative, conducted two studies in Alabama, one of young trees and one of mature trees. Loblolly pine (Pinus…  More 

Shortleaf Pine Plantings from 1980s Can Guide Restoration

About forty years ago, 155 plots of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) were planted in national forests across the USDA Forest Service Southern Region. The original purpose was progeny testing, but as decades passed, the study was largely abandoned. However, many of the stands remained and kept growing. In 2018, researchers evaluated 15 of the surviving…  More 

Seed Size & Predation

Among their many benefits, prescribed fires can protect southeastern pine woodlands from encroachment – the process of fire-sensitive species expanding into fire-maintained woodlands. Because fire is important for longleaf pine regeneration, forest researchers have studied the effects of flammability on the pine woodlands. In a recent study published in in Applied Vegetation Science, USDA Forest…  More 

History of Forest Research in the South, 1921-1933

For 40 years, Philip Wakeley researched southern pines for the USDA Forest Service. Wakeley was one of the first Forest Service R&D employees in the South. He began his career in 1924, at the Southern Forest Experiment Station in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Station was established in 1921, and in the 1990s would merge with…  More 

Prescribed Fire Effects on Soil Fertility

USDA Forest Service researcher John Butnor wondered how dormant-season prescribed fire affects forest soil fertility in the months after a burn. Do nutrients from burned pine straw, grasses, and woody debris remain in the forest? Others have studied soil a year or more after a prescribed burn. Butnor’s research compares soil chemistry before burning and…  More 

New Species Named After SRS Research Entomologist

Twenty-five years ago, Brian Sullivan saw a fungus growing in bark alongside the small southern pine engraver (Ips avulsus). The beetle is native to the U.S. and commonly kills stressed pine trees. Sullivan, a USDA Forest Service research entomologist, examined the fungus. He identified its genus but could not identify the species – the fungus…  More 

Managing Oak-Pine Stands

About half of southern forests are a mix of oaks and pines growing side by side. In the past, getting rid of either the oaks or the pines had been a common management goal. “Pine plantations – stands with no oaks – have become one of the most recognizable symbols of forest management,” says John…  More 

Wildfire During a Drought? It Can Still Benefit Forests

In the summer of 2011, lightning struck a ridge near High Peak Mountain, on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. The High Peak Wildfire began. “It’s a remote and rugged area, and we were in the middle of a severe drought,” says Virginia McDaniel, a USDA Forest Service forestry technician, who led a study on…  More 

Life as a Radio Operator in the Communications Unit

“Communications, Taskforce Leader Peterson,” blurts the radio. “Communications, go ahead Taskforce Leader Peterson,” I say. “I would like to report a vehicle rollover on Highway 73. Please clear the airway for emergency traffic only.” The Communications Unit bursts into action. Someone alerts critical members of Type 1 Incident Command Team that we have an Incident…  More 

Silviculture for Open Forests

Grassy oak savannas and sunny pine woodlands were once a common sight across the eastern U.S. These open forests have fewer large trees in the overstory and a bounty of native grasses and flowering plants in the understory. Frequent fire limited tree regrowth and created the open canopy. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg and…  More