Inspectors watch for Christmas tree pests and diseases

Wisconsin’s Ag Secretary says state inspectors work with growers to keep pests and diseases from going home with fresh Christmas tree and wreath buyers.

“It’s a partnership. We work with the growers to do everything possible to make sure that the home-grown, locally-grown tree is pest free.”

Romanski says inspectors and tree farmers watch for many things including spongy moth egg masses, elongate hemlock scale, and insects including the European pine shoot moth, balsam twig aphid, and the balsam gall midge. “If we’re visiting the farm or the lots, we’re working to make sure that we’re preventing those things from spreading, because if it came here from someplace else, we want to catch it. We don’t want it, and let’s stop it before it gets here.”

Romanski says growers are very proactive at controlling pests without over-applying spray treatments and real trees have many environmental benefits. “Sequestering carbon, and they are sustainable. They grow for whatever their life cycle is and then, for instance, I know some farmers that will do a crop rotation where there’s something else, or a cover crop in that area after the trees to keep that sustainability aspect of it going.”

The National Christmas Tree Association says Wisconsin is the fifth largest producer of Christmas trees behind Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and that more than 25 million real trees are sold in the U.S. every year.

AUDIO: Secretary Randy Romanski discusses working with Christmas tree farmers and salespeople to prevent the spread of diseases and pests.

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