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Trees

John McGuire near a forest wearing a red safety vest and leaning on a tool
Spring 2024

Fire and longleaf pines: A talk with John McGuire

John McGuire (’93 Env. Sci., ’95 Biol.) directs the Private Lands Prescribed Fire Program at Tall Timbers, Inc. He holds a master’s degree in forestry from Auburn University and serves as president of both the Alabama Prescribed Fire Council and Alabama Invasive Plant Council.

His awards include 2016 Forest Conservationist of the Year in Jackson, Missouri; 2008 Longleaf Alliance Contribution Award in Auburn, Alabama; 2004 USDA Forest Service Centennial Congress Award in Asheville, North Carolina; 2003 South Carolina Wildlife Society Forest Stewardship Award in Columbia, South Carolina; and 2000 Governor’s Award for Forest Conservation in Montgomery, Alabama.

McGuire was the outreach coordinator for the Longleaf … » More …

Travis Keatley (Photo Roger Werth/The Daily News)
Winter 2018

On the straight, tall, and narrow

The straight, long rows of tall and thin loblolly pine grow very fast in the South’s flat lands, especially compared to the slow-growing Douglas fir on steep Pacific Northwest slopes.

It’s just one of many differences that Travis Keatley (’99 Forest Mgmt.) has witnessed as he manages more than seven million acres of timber across 11 states for Weyerhaeuser.

As vice president of southern timberlands for the timber, land, and forest products company, Keatley works out of Hot Springs, Arkansas, and travels from Florida to Virginia to Louisiana, and all states in between, as he oversees Weyerhaeuser’s … » More …

Faster drop for a new crop
Spring 2017

Faster drop for a new crop

Water and time are money if you’re a farmer. Trees are especially slow, and to get a new apple variety growing at a commercial scale can take years. It not only takes a couple of years after planting for fruit production to start, but it’s a long time just getting trees to plant.

The number of trees needed to plant a commercial-scale orchard is daunting. Even a small orchard of 100 acres needs nearly a quarter million trees to get going. And while it might take only a couple years to “raise a few rootstocks, thousands can take many years,” Washington State University apple breeder … » More …

Winter 2016

Saving citrus from a sour end

An invader is sweeping like fire through the citrus groves of Florida. The Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus bacterium causes citrus greening, a disease that block trees’ nutrient and water channels and prevents fruit from ripening.

“It’s like choking the tree from the inside out,” says David Gang, a Washington State University molecular biologist and biochemist who is collaborating with a large, multi-institution, interdisciplinary team to combat the disease. If left unaddressed, the entire U.S. citrus industry could be wiped out and, as Florida Senator Bill Nelson said a few years ago, “We’ll end up paying $5 for an orange—and it’ll have to be one imported from … » More …

Winter 2016

Wood Takes Wing

The most complex chemistry lab on the planet is growing in your neighborhood. There might be a tree in your own backyard, cranking out chemicals as it converts sunlight to food, wards off pests, and circulates water and nutrients through it roots, branches, and leaves.

So diverse is the chemical compendium produced by trees that we get aspirin (willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid and has been used to treat pain since ancient times), the ink Leonardo used in his notebooks (from leaf galls produced by wasp larvae), and natural antibacterials (the fiber in cedar chips is used to make hospital gowns).

» More …

Gary Chastagner. Photo Robert Hubner
Winter 2013

Ask Mr. Christmas Tree

If you’re looking for Gary Chastagner around this time of year, you would do well to put out an all-points bulletin to Wherever Christmas Trees Are Sold. He’s perused trees up and down the West Coast, as well as in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, and Texas. Just look for the cheerful fellow taking clippings, bending needles, and chatting up the owners about things like moisture content and needle retention.

 

“My family knows that if it’s Christmas time, I’m usually around looking at Christmas tree lots,” he says.

Chastagner, officially a plant pathologist with the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, is … » More …

Spring 2012

The Lowell Elm

 

The Lowell Elm at WSU. Staff photo

Harriet Bryan, wife of Washington Agricultural College president Enoch Bryan, planted the Lowell Elm in 1893. She had brought the seedling to her new home from Elmwood, the estate of James Russell Lowell, near Harvard University, where her husband had earned his master of arts degree shortly before becoming Washington State College’s first long-term president. Staff photo

Madrone leaf blight
Spring 2012

A blighted Northwest icon

Last March, Gary Chastagner was driving around southwest Oregon scouting test plots for a study of madrone, the gnarly, reddish-brown tree found up and down the West Coast. A variety of diseases had been hitting the trees in recent years, and Chastagner, a plant pathologist in WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center, was undertaking a study to see if some varieties might be more disease resistant than others.

Driving between Roseburg and Medford, he started seeing entire slopes of trees that looked decidedly disease prone.

“It just looked like someone went through with a blowtorch,” Chastagner recalls.

County extension agents and natural resource … » More …