Plant Pest Insider Newsletter - June 4, 2020

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A Newsletter from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture

June 4, 2020

Emerald Ash Borer Active Period Now

Emerald ash borer adult beetle

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA) emerald ash borer (EAB) best management practice guidelines say to avoid removal of ash branches, trees, and stumps May 1 through September 30 in known EAB infested areas.

If removal is necessary due to a hazardous condition, then chip at least the outer 1 inch of bark/wood on-site and transport to the nearest facility that can quickly process the material, or transport at least the outer 1 inch of bark/wood in a vehicle where it is 100% enclosed to the nearest facility that can quickly process the material. Material should remain enclosed until it can be, at a minimum, chipped.

For more information on best management practices, please visit the MDA EAB website or the University of Minnesota EAB risk status website. 


Don't Move Firewood! billboard

Tree Care Company Fined for Removing Firewood from EAB Quarantine

A tree care company operating in the Twin Cities area paid a $250 fine for removing firewood from the EAB regulated area. A citizen reported the movement of the wood to the MDA along with a picture of the truck with wood visible. The MDA interviewed the company who acknowledged removing oak firewood from the regulated area. All types of hardwood firewood are regulated under the EAB quarantine. Firewood is defined as logs less than 4 feet in length.

Read More about firewood regulations in Minnesota.

Free Invasive Plant Training

Tactical Invasive Plant Management Workshops are an opportunity to learn regional invasive plant management priorities based upon distribution modeling, a cost-benefit analysis, and other factors such as proximity to areas of high biodiversity significance. There is also weed identification and reporting training. This course is free and appropriate for professional vegetation managers (parks, transportation, conservation organizations, inspectors, etc.). There is an online, self-paced course followed by a regional, live web session June 9, 10, or 11.  


Free Invasive Plant Training

May Weed of the Month: Pesky Plant Trackers

This spring, the coronavirus pandemic has everyone adjusting to uncertainty and assessing the safety of our activities. Fortunately, one safe activity is the tracking of seasonal change in living organisms, or phenology. Phenology gets us outdoors, physically active, and mentally engaged. When appropriately planned, these activities are compatible with social distancing. Most importantly, observing the natural world relieves stress and offers a welcome change of scenery.

As you observe your local scenery this spring, be on the lookout for these pesky plants: wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica). As its name denotes, wild parsnip is the feral relative to the familiar food crop. Its leaves and stems contain a toxic sap that burns exposed skin when exposed to sun. Japanese knotweed was once admired as a bamboo-like ornamental plant. However, it sprouts through concrete, propagates from small root fragments, and compromises the integrity of bridges, drains, and buildings. These two species are the focus of Pesky Plant Trackers, a new participatory science project.

Read More

Pesky Plant Tracker logo

Tree of Heaven

June Weed of the Month: Tree of Heaven

Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is a deciduous tree native to China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. It was brought to the U.S. in the late 1700s as an ornamental shade tree. Today this tree is found in most of the Continental U.S., Hawaii, and Canada. It looks similar to staghorn sumacash, and walnut and has a strong, offensive odor that some describe as being similar to rotting peanuts. In 2020, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture changed the regulated noxious weed designation of tree of heaven from Restricted to Prohibited Eradicate, meaning that all tree of heaven plants must be eliminated.

Read More

Hemp field

Minnesota's Hemp Program

Anyone wishing to grow or process hemp in Minnesota must obtain a license through the MDA Hemp Program. The MDA will begin implementing a commercial licensing program this fall, after operating a pilot program for five years.

The application period for 2020 closed on March 31. The MDA received 577 applications this year, which is a slight increase over 2019. So far, there are 390 hemp growers licensed in the state and 214 processors. Hemp growers have registered about 8,300 acres and 4.6 million indoor square feet.

The primary usage for the hemp grown in Minnesota is flower/cannabinoid production. About 80% of the registered growers intend to produce hemp for either cannabidiol (CBD) or cannabigerol (CBG). Seventeen percent intend to grow for grain production. The hemp grain is cold pressed to make oil or used as a human food ingredient. There is a small fraction of growers that intend to produce hemp for fiber production. No matter what the hemp is grown for, MDA inspectors visit every hemp field and indoor grow location, take samples, and test for THC levels. Hemp must contain 0.3% THC or less to be compliant with state and federal laws.

MDA Hemp Program

Look-alike insects Vespa mandarinia

"Murder Hornet" Information

The news reported on the detection of the world's largest hornet, Vespa mandarinia, in Washington earlier this month, calling the Asian giant hornets "murder hornets." These hornets are insect predators, prefer eating honey bees, and can completely destroy a colony. The University of Minnesota Extension Service has more information on these large hornets. 

Read More

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Coronavirus Recommendations

The MDA has prepared many recommendations for citizens, staff, and employers in relation to growing and selling plants safely. 

To find a local farmers market, U-pick farm, or other Minnesota grown products, please visit the Minnesota Grown directory. For more information on COVID-19 in Minnesota please visit

International Year of Plant Health logo

2020 Year of Plant Health

The United Nations declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The year is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

Read More

MDA Certified Heat Treated Firewood logo VOID

Minnesota Certified Firewood

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has certified eight firewood producers in the state of Minnesota for heat treatment of firewood. Look for the logo when purchasing firewood. It means the firewood is safe to move and is free of emerald ash borer.

Certified firewood producers:

  • Emily Forest Products
  • JN Firewood
  • Paul's Fireplace Wood Inc. 
  • Price Firewood
  • Sunset Firewood Company
  • TSL Firewood
  • Wood Chuckers Firewood LLC
  • Leroy Habiger "The Firewood Man"
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