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article imageSouthern pines in U.S. doing better than expected

By Tim Sandle     Jul 3, 2015 in Environment
Atlanta - In the U.S., Southern tree farmers have been worried about a spate of unexpected pine tree deaths. University researchers have concluded that the rate of decline will slowdown and that farmers have little to worry about.
According to the University of Georgia, the phenomenon known as "southern pine decline" is not as widespread as first feared and there are signs the loss of pine trees is slowing down. Pines are evergreen conifer trees in the genus Pinus; there are over 175 different types worldwide.
The lead investigator, Kamal Gandhi, has stated quite directly in a research note: “No one freak out.” Further to this, he adds: “There are some pine health issues that need to be addressed, but southern pine decline isn't one of them. There are a whole bunch of factors we need to consider at the local instead of regional level.”
The disease began to be detected during the 1950s. In terms of what has been killing certain pine trees the cause is uncertain, with possible theories relating to pointed to root-feeding weevils or fungi. Different terminology is used for the disease, depending on the locale. Expressions include “loblolly pine die-off,” “pine decline” and “southern pine decline.”
The rate of deaths of pine trees is of economic concern, given the number of jobs involved in states like Georgia and the revenue generated from paper and lumber.
However, [url=http://website--http://www.sph.uga.edu--to/ t=_blank]new research collated by the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program suggests tree mortality rates are slowing down. This is based on forest areas, tree sizes, tree growth and so on. The reason for the optimistic outcome is because the University of Georgia researchers think the cause of decline is not so much related to fungi or beetles, but instead the deaths are due to environmental factors, like soil quality. The view is that better management of soil will reduce the incident rate.
The research has been published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, in a paper described as “A review of southern pine decline in North America.”
More about pine trees, Beetles, Fungi, Pests, Soil
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