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Pine Shoot Beetle Compliance Management Program


Pine Christmas tree growers are encouraged to participate in this management program to help reduce levels of this pest in their pine plantations. Experience has shown that most growers who participate succeed in reducing pine shoot beetle to insignificant levels and therefore qualify for permits to ship outside the regulated area.

To enroll in the program, growers must send a completed PSB Compliance Management Program Agreement FormEnrolled Field Information Form and PSB Monitoring Activity Checklist for each field to the MDARD Lansing office. The deadline for receiving these forms is April 1st.

Pine shoot beetle (PSB) has now been found in over 70 counties in Michigan. The Pine Shoot Beetle Compliance Management Program was designed for growers who plan on shipping Scotch pine trees or other pine products out of the area under the PSB quarantine. You may wish to enroll in this program.

The information here is intended to give you an overview of the PSB Compliance Management Program. Be sure to keep in touch with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Michigan State University (MSU), and MSU Extension, or the Michigan Christmas Tree Association for new information as it becomes available.

Program Overview

What is the PSB Compliance Management Program?

Under the Compliance Management Program, Christmas tree growers identify the specific fields that they wish to enroll in the program. You should consider enrolling fields if they are:

  • Scotch pine or another species of pine
  • At least some trees will be harvested from the field
  • At least some of those trees will be shipped out of the PSB regulated area.

Growers agree to follow the program in the enrolled fields. If the management program is followed and all deadlines are met, then the fields are "in compliance". This means that the trees from those fields can be shipped to any other state in the United States without MDARD conducting an inspection for PSB in accordance with the Federal PSB Quarantine protocol. However, you should be aware that the MDARD would inspect the trees in the fall for gypsy moth. If the MDARD inspector detects trees with apparent PSB infestation and recovers live PSB beetles at levels considered above the "minimal risk" level, MDARD will work with the grower to bring the field into compliance, whenever possible. MDARD will also monitor compliance by the growers through random checks and review of records.

The ideas behind the program are that:

  • We have good research data that shows our program is effective at controlling PSB populations in Scotch pine fields.
  • If growers follow our program recommendations, then the trees they harvest and ship are not likely to carry any PSB or a minimal amount.
  • This means that there is little risk that PSB will be introduced into new areas as a result of Christmas tree shipments. 

How is this different than the current PSB situation?

The PSB Compliance Management Program represents a major change in the way state and federal regulatory agencies do business. Until now, the regulatory agencies have held a "zero-risk" philosophy; in other words, they tried to insure that there was zero risk of PSB being introduced into a new state.

This zero-risk philosophy meant that all fields with pine trees had to be inspected in the fall.  If a single live beetle was found during that inspection, then the field was restricted. Trees from a restricted field could be sold within the PSB regulated area, but not outside of the regulated area. The PSB quarantine has had major impacts on some growers, especially those who ship pine trees to southern or western states. Under the PSB Compliance Management Program, the "zero-risk" philosophy has been changed to a "minimal-risk" philosophy. Regulatory agencies in the U.S. have agreed that if growers follow the program, there is only a low or minimal risk that PSB could be carried along on pine Christmas trees. Federal regulatory agencies such as USDA, APHIS, the National Plant Board, and state regulatory agencies have agreed to accept trees from regulated areas without a PSB inspection and certification process, if those trees were grown under the PSB Compliance Management Program.

What do I have to do to be in compliance?

There is a major emphasis on reducing or eliminating the pine BROOD MATERIAL that the beetles colonize in the spring for breeding. Brood material for PSB includes any pine stump, log, cut tree, branches, slash etc. that was cut in the last 9-10 months. Note that this applies only to pine material - spruce, Douglas fir, and fir species are not good hosts for this beetle.

PSB Life Cycle

To understand the PSB Compliance Management Program, you must know something about the biology of PSB. Pine shoot beetles have one generation per year. Adult beetles overwinter at the base of live pine trees until late February or March. Then these beetles leave the overwintering site and fly to suitable brood material - recently cut or killed stumps, logs, or cut trees. The beetles chew their way under the bark, mate, and the female lay eggs. The eggs hatch and the larvae (little white grubs) feed for 6 to 10 weeks. They pupate and a new generation of adult beetles begins to emerge in early or mid-June. These beetles look like adults, but are not yet sexually mature. The new beetles feed in the shoots of live pine trees all summer as part of the maturation process. When the weather gets cold, anytime between October and December, the beetles leave the shoots and move down the tree to overwinter.


A. Sanitation - Destroy Cull Piles and other Brood Material - All potential brood material must be destroyed before May 20th. This includes any pine trees, branches, etc., cut since October 1st of last year. The idea is to destroy the brood material before the new generation of beetles can emerge next summer. Culled trees and other potential brood material can be piled and burned, or chipped. Don't use a brush-hog - it leaves large chunks of pine that are still suitable for PSB development.

B. Stumps - From trees harvested last autumn will also need to be managed because they can be colonized by breeding adults in the spring. You have some options for stump treatment. First, stumps can be cut off very low - less than 4" or as close to the ground as possible. The idea here is to limit the amount of brood material available to the beetles. If you leave high stumps this fall, you can re-cut the stumps and chip or burn the cut section by May 20th. Another option is to spray the bark of stumps with an approved insecticide in early to mid-March to kill the overwintering adults when they try to colonize the stumps. (This obviously won't be practical if there is snow on the ground). You can also spray the stumps after May 1st but before June 1st (depending on location) with an USDA approved pesticide to kill the new generation of beetles when they emerge from stumps. The final option is to pull the stumps out of the ground and burn or chip them by May 20th.

C. Trap Logs - Are used to trick the overwintering adult beetles when they are searching for brood material in spring. You set out nice fresh pine logs, let the adult beetles colonize the logs, then destroy the logs before the new generation of beetles can emerge. A trap log consists of a pine log or cut tree, at least 3-4 inches in diameter and 2-3 feet long. Culled trees can be used as trap logs - you don't need to trim the branches off. For example, a 6-foot tall Scotch pine tree with gall rust or Zimmerman pine moth damage makes 2-3 trap logs. Don't use white pine logs; the beetles avoid them. The trap logs need to be cut no earlier than 6 months prior to use, that is no earlier than October 1st of the preceding year. If they are cut before October 1st, they may not be fresh enough to attract the adult beetles in the spring. You will need to set out 8-12 trap logs per acre by March 1st in Zone 1 and by March 15th in Zone 2. Set the logs around the edges and in the lanes of the fields that you will harvest.  Note: You don't need to set trap logs in every field, just the ones that you will harvest. Be sure that you can find all the trap logs - don't set trap logs in the middle of a field or block. The trap logs must be collected and either chipped or burned during the time window of May 1st through May 20th. That's an important time window - you need to leave them out long enough to be sure that you have trapped all the old adults, but you must destroy them before any new beetles can emerge. Be sure you don't leave any trap logs in the field after May 20th. That will result in many beetles feeding in shoots in your trees next summer.

D. Cover Spray - Cover sprays are useful for controlling the new generation of beetles as they begin to shoot-feed in the summer. The best time to apply the cover spray is at 400-450 degree days base 50. This usually occurs in early or mid-June in much of Michigan. You will need to use an approved product. A list of approved products will be sent to the program participants at a later date. Note: that this timing is similar to the timing of gypsy moth sprays. You may be able to apply one cover spray and meet both PSB and gypsy moth requirements.

E. Record Keeping - Keep records of everything you do related to PSB! That means keep a record of when fields were harvested this fall, when you cut cull trees that you might use for trap logs, how high your stumps were cut this fall, when you burned your cull pile, insecticide applications to stumps or live trees and so on. The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development will provide you with a form, with exactly what information will be required. Until then, it's best to write down anything that might be important next year.

Can I get started now on next year's program?

Yes! When harvesting trees this fall, try to cut the stumps off as low as possible. This will meet part of the PSB Compliance Management Program, plus provide your customers with a nice handle on their tree. As you harvest trees this fall, remember that you will need trap logs next spring. Any trees cut later than October 1 can be used as trap logs. If you see damaged or diseased or just plain ugly trees this fall mark them for trap logs next spring. During the winter, get any cull piles destroyed. You can often use straw to get a cull pile burning, even in winter. Remember that you'll need to get trap logs out into fields no later than March 1st or March 15th depending on the Zone. You can set them out earlier too. Work the trap logs into your management plans for the winter. Stay in touch with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), MSU and MSU-Extension, or the Michigan Christmas Tree Association for revisions or changes in the PSB Compliance Management Program or regulatory process.

Do I have to participate in the PSB Compliance Management Program?

No. The current fall field inspection and certification process will continue to be an option. If no live beetles are found in the field during the inspection, you will be issued certificates and can ship trees out of the regulated area. If you don't plan on shipping pine trees out of the PSB regulated area, then you don't need to officially enroll in the program. The steps included in the PSB Compliance Management Program, especially the sanitation, stump treatment, and trap logs, will keep PSB populations at low levels in your fields. This will be helpful if you decide to ship trees out of state in the next few years. Other growers in your region will also appreciate your efforts.

Why should I participate in the PSB Compliance Management Program?

  1. Good management is rewarded - If you meet the deadlines and carry out the steps in the PSB Compliance Management Program, the risk of having your Scotch pine fields restricted in autumn is considerably reduced.
  2. Good IPM reduces other pest problems - The PSB management practices (e.g. good sanitation) will also reduce problems with other pests such as Pales weevil and Zimmerman pine moth.
  3. It's OUR program - Michigan Christmas tree growers are the group that has been most affected by the PSB quarantine. This program was largely developed here in Michigan. The program came about because of a cooperative effort involving Michigan Christmas tree growers, Michigan Christmas Tree Association, and the US Forest Service. Federal agencies including USDA, APHIS and the National Plant Board, and Purdue University have also worked on the program.
  4. It's a new option for exotic pests - As global trade continues to increase, the chance that new exotic pests will be introduced into North America also increases. This is a particular problem in the Lake States, where ships from all over the world unload cargo at major ports. If the PSB Compliance Management Program is successful, regulatory agencies will have a new option for managing exotic insects or other pests in the future.