Buying local firewood helps prevent spread of tree diseases – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Buying local firewood helps prevent spread of tree diseases

Osage County black walnut timber harvested near Scranton.

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Agriculture is encouraging Kansans who use firewood to heat their homes to consider using local firewood to help prevent the spread of tree diseases and pests.

While it may seem harmless on the surface, transporting firewood can pose a threat to healthy, pest-free trees across the state of Kansas. Tree-killing insects and diseases can lurk in what appears to be harmless firewood. Even if the exterior of the firewood appears to be healthy, microscopic fungal spores or pin-head sized insect eggs could be lurking in the wood. These pests and diseases can emerge before the wood is burned and infest trees in additional locations.

KDA recommends avoiding long distance transportation of untreated firewood due to the threat of Emerald Ash Borer, Thousand Cankers Disease of walnut, and Pine Wilt.

Douglas, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties all prohibit the transportation of hardwood firewood out of the contiguous boundary of their county borders to help prevent the spread of EAB. This insect disrupts the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, causing it to die.

EAB and other harmful diseases, including Thousand Cankers of Walnut and Pine Wilt are of concern to homeowners and foresters. Jeff Vogel, KDA plant protection and weed control program manager, said Kansas citizens play an important role in helping to slow the movement of these pests and diseases.

“It is imperative to take initiative when moving firewood,” said Vogel. “Preventing destructive pests is important not only for the health of our trees, but also for our economy.”

The United States Forest Service estimates that from 2009 to 2019 the response to eliminating the EAB will cost as much as $10.7 billion.

To learn more about the facts and general information of firewood transportation, visit

Firewood facts

Not all firewood is created equal. Some species of trees are able to produce much more heat per cord of wood. A cord is the amount of wood in a well-stacked woodpile measuring 4 feet wide by 8 feet long by 4 feet high.

Following are heat values (in million BTUs) per cord for various species of tree. The higher the value, the better the wood.

  • Ash, Green, 22.8
  • Cottonwood, 15.9
  • Elm, American, 19.8, difficult to split
  • Elm, Siberian, 20.9, difficult to split
  • Hackberry, 21.0
  • Honeylocust, 25.6
  • Locust, Black, 28.3, difficult to split
  • Maple, Sugar, 24.0
  • Maple, Silver, 18.9
  • Mulberry, 25.3
  • Oak, Red, 24.0
  • Oak, Bur, 24.9
  • Oak, Post, 25.6
  • Osage Orange (Hedge), 32.6, sparks, do not use in open fireplace
  • Sycamore, 19.5, difficult to split
  • Walnut, Black, 21.8

The Kansas Forest Service has a publication titled “Managing Your Woodland for Firewood” that is quite helpful. See .

Information thanks to Kansas Department of Agriculture and Ward Upham, K-State Research and Extension.

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