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Improving tree health one diagnosis at a time

Posted date: October 19, 2016

Updated book takes a fresh look at tree diseases in the Great Plains

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., October 23, 2016 - Back by popular demand, the book Diseases of Trees in the Great Plains, is updated with more species and more topics than ever before! The first version, published in 1986, was one of the most requested publications of the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. Master gardeners, arborists, farmers, foresters, and other land managers have used this guidebook for over 30 years to successfully diagnose and treat tree diseases across Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and other Great Plains states.

“Trees in the Great Plains have long provided valuable services like improving air and water quality and providing wildlife habitat. Many of these trees are overstressed due to the wide range of weather conditions in the Plains and other human and natural factors. Stressed trees are more susceptible to diseases and many tree diseases are lethal,” said Michele Schoeneberger, research lead for the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agroforestry Center. “This book gives us the tools we need to identify these diseases and more effectively manage them”.

The book identifies tree hosts, tree distribution, disease symptoms and signs, disease cycles, and management strategies for 84 hardwood and 32 conifer diseases found in the Great Plains. The book also includes color illustrations, a glossary of technical terms, and indexes of hosts and pathogens. Diseases of Trees in the Great Plains covers diseases of foliage, roots, stems, and branches soil-borne and wilt diseases, and the safe handling and use of pesticides.

“The 27 authors of this publication have done a remarkable job. This book will help users diagnose tree diseases and reduce their impact. Arborists, landowners, pest management specialists, foresters, and plant pathologists will find it very easy to use because the chapters are grouped into hardwood and conifer diseases, then classified by the part of the plant being affected, each following a standard format,” said co-technical coordinator Alison Hill of the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. “The original book contained only 46 hardwood and 15 conifer diseases, we have doubled that in this version. This comprehensive information will aid in more accurate diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.”

The unique relationship between the state foresters, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Great Plains Tree Pest Council is a great example of how individuals and institutions heard and saw a distinct need for this information and then leveraged resources to produce this timely book/publication. In response to stakeholder needs and requests, authors from several federal agencies, state agencies, and universities throughout this region pooled their collective and individual knowledge in support of Great Plains trees.

“The Great Plains Tree Pest Council represents the only working group of tree health experts in the region and strives to advance the science and practice of pest management and tree health for a sustainable tree resource,” said co-technical coordinator Aaron Bergdahl. “The collective effort to complete this book really highlights the importance of and potential for regional cooperation to promote tree health.”


The book is available for online download and can also be ordered through the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (email requests to:

Related Publications

Bergdahl, Aaron D. ; Hill, Alison , 2016
Riffle, Jerry W. ; Peterson, Glenn W. , 1986

The Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) is one of seven units within the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development. RMRS maintains 14 field laboratories throughout a 12-state territory encompassing parts of the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and the Great Plains. RMRS also administers and conducts research on 14 experimental forests, ranges and watersheds and maintains long-term research databases for these areas. While anchored in the geography of the West our research is global in scale. To find out more about the RMRS go to You can also follow us on Twitter at




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Jennifer Hayes
Public Affairs Specialist