Purple Needle Eater
It's not quite what the song implies by Gary Chastagner, Professor of Plant Pathology at WSU says a fungus known as the Purple Needle Eater is doing considerable damage to pine trees in the northwest.
CHASTAGNER: It's a problem, has been for actually a number of years in some of the higher elevations sites where Noble fir naturally occur or are replanted and used for production of boughs for the greenery industry. What was really unusual was in 2014 it also showed top in some former Christmas Tree sites at lower elevations that had been converted to produce boughs
But why the unusual moniker?
CHASTAGNER: The growers at the high elevation sites refer to it as Purple Needle Eater because the affected new growth turn purple in color and basically makes it so that the boughs are unusable for greenery products.
Chastagner talks about what is being done to control Purple Needle Eater.
CHASTAGNER:The growers gave in the past have attempted to control it by making a fungicide spray right when the new growth comes out. That's when the infections takes place. We did some preliminary work and we actually found that there's several needle cast diseases, not just Purple Needle Eater and one of them appears to be a pathogen that we haven't even seen on conifers before.
And that's Washington Ag Today. I'm Greg Martin, thanks for listening on the Ag Information Network of the West.