January 13, 2006 | By: Aimee Nielson

Photos showing symptoms of Sudden Oak Death taken by Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, www.invasive.orgKentucky’s 11.7 million acres of forest land contributes more than $4 billion each year to the state’s economy and provides more than 30,000 jobs. With hardwoods comprising roughly 90 percent of forest land, the protection of those trees is vital to the survival of the industry.

Sudden Oak Death (SOD) and ramorum leaf blight, diseases caused by a water mold, have been found in native woodlands and parks in California and Oregon and in parts of Europe. Because of Kentucky’s integral hardwood and timber industry, Extension professionals such as Patricia de Sá have been paying close attention to the commonwealth’s forests. As a plant pathology research specialist, de Sá took part in a 2005 National Forest Survey of nursery perimeters and general forest areas.

The survey took place in 28 states. In Kentucky, the survey was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the Kentucky Division of Forestry and the University of Kentucky’s Plant Pathology department.

“We surveyed 30 locations in 26 counties according to a protocol designed by Forest Health Monitoring of the USDA Forest Service,” de Sá said. “The locations included four Kentucky state forests; eight privately owned forested areas; six nursery perimeters; forested areas in eight state parks; two National Parks; and two city parks.”

She said leaf and bark samples were collected from species in 11 targeted host trees and plants, including maple, buckeye, chestnut, beech, witch hazel, mountain laurel, honeysuckle, oak, rhododendron, blueberries and viburnum. DNA was extracted and sampled in a lab from each specimen.

“No samples were found to be positive in any of the 30 locations surveyed in Kentucky in 2005,” de Sá said. “Still, early detection and eradicating diseased plants are important to protect Kentucky’s forest resources and the nursery and landscape industries from Sudden Oak Death and ramorum leaf blight.”



Patricia de Sá 859-257-7445