Christmas tree pest management webinar series starts Feb. 6

Learn how to identify and effectively manage pests in Christmas trees during webinar series in February 2020.

Spruce spider mite damage
Spruce spider mite damage. Photo by USDA Forest Service - Northeastern Area , USDA Forest Service,

During February 2020, Michigan State University Extension is offering a free webinar series focused on identifying and effectively managing insects, mites and diseases in Christmas trees. The Christmas Tree Pest Management Webinar Series features scouting techniques from Chloé Gendre, an agricultural scientist and consultant for Christmas tree producers in Quebec, Canada for the Club Agroenvironnemental de l'Estrie. Gendre provides technical knowledge of integrated pest management and provides regulatory support to the horticultural producers. 

Monique Sakalidis, an assistant professor in the Departments of Plant Soil and Microbial Sciences and Forestry at Michigan State University, will provide an overview of diseases that affect Christmas tree species and their management. The following week, “Bugman” Howard Russell of MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics will cover diagnosing and managing insect pests in conifers.

During the final week of the webinar series, Bert Cregg, a professor in the Departments of Horticulture and Forestry at MSU, will discuss trouble-shooting Christmas tree symptoms and how to determine if a pest is the problem.

The Christmas Tree Pest Management Webinar Series will be live from 12:30 to 2 p.m. EST every Thursday starting Feb. 6 through Feb. 27, 2020. Participants will have the option to tune in to the live webinar or stream the recording on-demand afterwards. There is no charge for the webinar series, but those interested do need to register at Christmas Tree Pest Management Webinar Series by Feb. 4.

The program topics and speakers are as follows.

Feb. 6 – Scouting Christmas Trees: Tools for IPM 

Speakers: Chloé Gendre, Club agroenvironnemental de l'Estrie, Quebec, Canada, and Heidi Lindberg, MSU Extension

Most growers of Christmas trees have to deal with pest problems. An integrated pest management approach (IPM) can make sure you are using pesticides at the correct time and only when necessary. Gendre will cover the various methods and tools growers can use in their pest management tool box. Lindberg will cover the resources available for scouting and pest management.

Feb. 13 – Disease Management in Christmas Trees

Speaker: Monique Sakalidis, MSU

Fungi cause the majority of diseases of Christmas trees. Symptoms can include abnormal swellings on the branches, discolored needles, pustules or blisters on the foliage, curling of the growing shoots, and cankers. Sakalidis will discuss some basic biology of fungal pathogens and how to identify and manage some of the more troublesome diseases. 

Feb. 20 – Insect Management in Christmas Tree Production 

Speaker: Howard Russell, MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics

Insects can cause costly damage at various times in a tree’s growing cycle. Russell will review several of the more common pest growers are trying to manage and discuss strategies for effective insect pest control. 

Feb. 27 – Troubling shooting: Is it a pest?

Speaker: Bert Cregg, MSU

Browning or yellowing of foliage, needle drop and tree death are symptoms that can be caused by insect pests or diseases, but they can also be caused by environmental issues. Oftentimes damage caused by environmental factors such as temperature extremes or herbicide injury may not be apparent until long after the damaging event. Cregg will discuss steps in trouble-shooting tree problems and determining whether a problem is related to biotic or environmental factors.

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