I cannot imagine the possibility of black walnut (Juglans nigra) disappearing from my shop, more than I can imagine not having a shop to practice the craft I love. But that is exactly what could happen if the pest that spreads thousand cankers disease has its way. Already, the disease has been devastating to black walnut trees in Western states. Please read about this on the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s web site.
Lonnie Messbarger (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), the Resource Forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) in the St Joseph, MO office, visited us during our Woodworkers Guild meeting last night. He talked about the huge threat posed by the walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis) and an associated fungus (Geosmithia sp. nov.). I invite you read this paper from MDC, and to help spread the word about this threat.
Although the disease has not been found in “…the native range black walnut trees…” in Missouri or other Midwestern states, much work is concentrated on finding answers, and solutions. Please help spread the word; Lonnie asked we contact the Department of Conservation Forester to arrange for sampling and testing of suspect trees. The disease starts near the top of the tree, and spreads downward, ultimately killing the tree with thousands of cankers where the beetle penetrated the bark.
What we can do as woodworkers: Lonnie suggested that if we buy wood from Western states on Craigslist, eBay, etc., we should make sure that it has no bark, as the beetle is present only in the bark. If we buy lumber in person from someone in the Western states, request that logs and/or boards be de-barked prior to loading them, and moving them to the Midwest.
What we can do as woodworkers – based on additional feedback from Lonnie:
…Our insect and disease expert saw your posting on the Woodworking Examiner (National Edition, Examiner.com) website, and sent me an update. The national experts dealing with the 1000 canker problem are recommending that folks not move any walnut wood (lumber, logs, firewood) from the West to the Midwest. That includes even if the bark is removed. This is their “more safe than sorry” take on the matter since they are not 100% sure of the biology of this insect and disease. I would tend to agree with them. I am sure they will refine this in the near future as they learn more…
Lonnie Messbarger, Resource Forester
Missouri Department of Conservation
Northwest Regional Office
St Joseph, MO
My thanks to Lonnie for his very proactive approach to staying involved with our community, and with forestry issues in general. He is also active in the St Joseph Woodworkers Guild, as our liaison for Arbor Day activities and just about everything involving wood and lumber.
— Al Navas