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2011 drought still affecting East Texas pine trees

KETK
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POSTED: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 6:38pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 11:52am

Our East Texas pine trees are still affected from the 2011 drought. Reports say it was the worst drought Texas has ever seen since the 1950s. But, our pine trees got it the worst.

"They took probably the largest brunt of drought stress than areas of lower elevation," said Certified Arborist Eric Artmire.

Artmire says even though the drought was two years ago, depending on the area, it can take a couple years for the trees to recover.

"It can take six to seven years for a tree to totally get passed droughts," said Artmire.  

In their weakened state, they're more immune to pine beetles.

UT Tyler Department Chair of Biology Dr. Srini Kambhampati says there are about six types of pine beetles in East Texas that attack our pine trees. 

 "In drought conditions, trees are weak because of lack of water. It weakens their immune system as well, so when the beetles attack them they cannot defend themselves," said Kambhampati.  

Once a few beetles get in the dying tree, they release a chemical that attracts more beetles.

Kambhampati says when the beetles are in the bark, it's nearly impossible to control them.

"You have a large number of trees affected by the drought and then you have an increase in beetle population so that makes for a deadly mix," said Kambhampati. 

Tips on how to preserve your pine trees:

  • Certified arborist Eric Artmire says most of the pines he sees browning off are in areas where there is not enough natural.
    mulch. Mulch is what protects the soil underneath the tree, so make sure your tree has enough.
     
  • Artmire also says if a tree is near grass, the grass sucks up all the water and nutrients.
     
  • If your tree is dying, make sure it's taken down right away, or pine beetles will spread.

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