BEETLEMANIA

Drought leaves pine trees vulnerable to attack from pests

The hot, dry weather has the state’s reeling timber industry in a catch-22 situation. The drought has left Mississippi’s pine trees stressed and vulnerable to attack from pine bark beetles, including the highly destructive Southern pine beetle.

The best defense against the pests is to thin tree stands. However, landowners are hesitant to thin their trees and lose revenue from selling at an unattractive price.

In short, cash-strapped landowners are risking long-term, devastating losses in the hopes of avoiding near-term losses from selling thinned trees during an extremely weak market.

Dr. Andy Londo, forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said, “They are waiting for prices to increase $1 or $2 per ton while risking…

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