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River Birch

(April 2010)

QuestionI have a river birch in my backyard I planted 6-7 years ago. It is doing really well! Last summer in July we went on a one week holiday and upon returning every leaf on the tree was gone! Small green caterpillar with brown spots had attacked. I have never seen anything like that before or since. The tree is probably 16 feet tall so I don't know how I would spray it. Any thoughts on how I might control this infestation occurring again?

AnswerLet’s hope it was a one season problem. Monitor the tree this season and if you spot a problem, take a sample to your county extension office for diagnosis. There are numerous insecticides that kill caterpillars, but they are typically applied as needed, not as a preventative spray.

(September 2006)

QuestionWe have a new home and just planted a small river birch sapling, it seems to be doing very well. There are several small shoots coming up around the trunk (which is only about 3 inches around, should we cut these shoots to allow the main trunk to grow, if so when is a good time, and can we replant the shoots?

AnswerRiver birch trees can be single-trunked or multi-trunked. If yours is a single trunk form, cut off the suckers or they will begin to compete with the main tree. If they have roots attached--which most suckers don't, you can replant this fall. Usually it is just best to cut them off slightly below the soil line as you see them.

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