CORVALLIS - A few stands of Sitka spruce in British Columbia that have somehow resisted infestation by the destructive Sitka spruce weevil may hold promise for Oregon's coastal Sitka forests.
Chal Landgren, a forester with Oregon State University Extension Service in Washington and Columbia counties, said he learned of the hardy stand of Sitka spruce during a sabbatical leave in British Columbia last year.
Sitka spruce had been viewed by foresters as a supplement for Douglas fir trees that have been heavily damaged in recent years by Swiss needle cast, a disease that causes their needles to turn yellow and drop off.
Since then, Landgren has been interested in the progress of a test plot of the weevil-hardy spruce established in Tillamook by the Oregon Department of Forestry. These seedlings are too small to be infested by the weevil, which typically infest the tree's top growth when the tree reaches five feet tall. The weevil burrows holes in the tree's growth leader, and its larvae eat the tender insides, stunting and deforming the tree.
It is too early to know whether the seeds will yield the same weevil-resistant Sitka spruce trees in Oregon forests as the ones in British Columbia.
Landgren plans to keep an eye on the research findings of these researchers and foresters, and pass them along as they develop.
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Chal Landgren, 503-397-3462 or 503-725-2102