Georgia drought conditions causing Ips beetle outbreaks

Ips beetle outbreaks killing Ga. trees

Members of the Georgia Forestry Commission are calling this year's Ips beetle outbreak the worst they've seen. Madison Cavalchire went to a tree farm in Macon to find out how the tiny bug is having a big impact on Georgia's timber.

For these Chris Barnes and Lynn Hooven, trees and bugs aren't new.

"I've been working with the Forestry Commission for about 18 years, and it's by far the worst Ips beetle outbreak that I've seen," said Georgia Forestry Health Specialist, Chris Barnes.

Barnes says this year's drought conditions lead to tiny beetles that are causing big problems.

"Once the trees become stressed, they put out a chemical agent, and that attracts the beetles to come into the pine stands and attack the trees," Barnes said.

Barnes says right now there are about 280 Ips beetle outbreaks in Georgia. He says each outbreak affects at least five acres of trees.

"One of the good hedges on forestry, is it is not a perishable commodity, but with this beetle epidemic we have today going through Middle Georgia, it has become a perishable commodity," Lynn Hooven said.

Lynn Hooven's a retired forester who works as a consultant for timber farmers.

"It is affecting the price immensely of all products, whether it be pulp wood, whether it be chip and saw, or whether it be saw timber," Hooven said.

Hooven says the Ips beetles are hurting the timber industry. He says the trees his clients can cut are selling for less.

"Probably a 15 to 20 percent cut in the price," Hooven said.

But fewer trees being cut could mean you'll pay more for the wood products you buy at the store.

Hooven says this beetle problem is bad, but he's hopeful Georgia's wood resources will remain.

"I have to be optimistic that I'm still going to have my 1,500 acre office," Hooven said.

Barnes says one way tree farmers have been trying to limit the beetle outbreaks is through prescribed burns. 

 

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